NZ shock over climate change minister attack

New Zealand’s climate change minister has been assaulted in the street while on his way to Parliament House.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw was punched in the face early on Thursday in Wellington, though was not seriously injured.

PM Jacinda Ardern said: “In New Zealand, you just don’t expect these things to happen.”

It prizes its culture of political openness and this has raised questions about the accessibility of lawmakers.

“We have an environment in New Zealand where politicians are accessible, and that’s something we should feel proud of,” Ms Ardern told reporters.

“We are after all, here to serve people. But today’s events really show we cannot take that for granted.”

A 47-year-old man was arrested and will appear in court on Friday, police said.

A Green party spokesperson described the attack as unprovoked and said Mr Shaw, who suffered a black eye, went to the hospital for a precautionary check-up.

It is still unclear if the attack on Mr Shaw was politically motivated, but Trade Minister David Parker told local media the attacker “was shouting things out about the United Nations”.

Lawmakers of all political stripes expressed shock and concern over the incident.

Violence is never ok. From myself and the @NZNationalParty we wish @jamespeshaw a fast recovery. We’re thinking of you & look forward to seeing you back at parliament soon.

End of Twitter post by @simonjbridges

This is outrageous behaviour and if undertaken by a Wellingtonian, shameful. Elected representatives of all hues show courage to represent New Zealanders & we are lucky to have unparalleled access to them. This is a sad day for democracy. Arohanui James.

End of Twitter post by @justin_lester

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