It's a rare event that a politician in New Zealand gets mugged while out walking.

Many of them have got into skirmishes when out doing their job.

The highly recognisable Winston Peters has had his fair share of pushing and shoving over the years, in the street and at restaurants. But then this man is always capable of giving as much as he gets.


The mild-mannered Lockwood Smith was once forced to take a back door out of a university rather than face angry students as Education Minister, years before that the Beehive's Darth Vader Bill Birch's limousine partially ran over a protesting student in Dunedin called Felix Geiringer who's gone on to make a name for himself in law.

That's the rough and tumble of politics.

The last time a politician was supposedly attacked while out walking was a Muldoon Minister, Keith Allen, way back in 1983, in an incident that saw him dubbed the Minister of Silly Walks.

Late one night Allen was making his way home, just up the road from Parliament, and arrived with a ripped shirt and a little bloodied.

Muldoon was adamant his minister and friend had been attacked - but a check with the Beehive's watering hole Bellamys showed that beer and a rose bush were the culprits.

Green Party leader James Shaw. Photo / John Stone
Green Party leader James Shaw. Photo / John Stone

That was confirmed a few nights later when a television crew was out filming the same route Allen would have taken, only to have him stagger into the shot and repeat the unsteady meander home.

A new word entered our language: hypoglycaemia. Allen was diabetic and shouldn't have been drinking at all.

So we've now gone from the Ministry of Silly Walks to the Ministry of Silly Talks with the attack on the Greens co-leader James Shaw, who wouldn't say boo to a goose.


He was walking to work with his headphones on listening to music and was opposite the Chinese Embassy when he was accosted.

Initially it was inferred he was attacked by a random, someone who didn't know him, although he thought, we were told, he may have heard the name James above the cacophony before he was clocked.

Then the politics kicked in, with Jacinda Ardern putting out a statement saying we should be proud of the access we have to our politicians who are here to serve the people.

But the attack shows they can't take that for granted, she said.

Ardern talked of a political environment where everyone can hold their views but they should feel safe in doing so.

Enter Shaw's co-leader Marama Davidson, who told us there was nothing that indicated that the attack had anything to do with her colleague's or the Green Party's work, although she said the assailant knew who he was.

Less than half an hour later Shaw's Cabinet colleague David Parker said the attacker shouted out things about the United Nations.

Put the politics to one side though, the guy who delivered the haymaker deserves all he gets and if it was politically motivated, he'll deserve more than he'll probably get.