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Politicians from all sides of the political spectrum have expressed shock at the unprovoked attack on the Climate Change Minister as he walked to work.
Mr Shaw suffered a black eye, bloody nose and lacerations to his face in the assault on Glenmore St in Kelburn about 7.50am.
Two members of the public came to Mr Shaw's aid and called emergency services.
RNZ understands the man jumped out of a van and was shouting political comments aimed at Mr Shaw personally.
Police said a 47-year-old man has been arrested in relation to an assault on Glenmore St. He has now been charged with injuring with intent to injure and is due to appear in Wellington District Court tomorrow.
Mr Shaw has given police a detailed statement, and they are asking for any witnesses to come forward.
Paramedics checked him out on scene and gave him the all-clear.
His visibly-shaken Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson told media this afternoon that the attacker seemed to know who Mr Shaw was, calling out his name.
"He's shaken. This was an individual who attacked him this morning and this is a big deal. And we're all shaken. But the messages of support are overwhelming and we are focused on supporting James at this time."
Ms Davidson said she hoped the incident did not result in politicians requiring heightened security.
"It would be a shame to lose the way people can approach us and access us in this country, that's one of the things I value about how we do politics. I'm really happy with the precautions that security have always taken. This is a single, individual attack that doesn't appear to be a pattern or organised at all."
Despite being injured, Mr Shaw continued on to Parliament after the attack and went to his meeting.
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor was also there.
"I have to give full marks to James, he turned up at cab committee with a black eye and bloody nose so it's true commitment to the job and I hope he comes right quick."
ATTACK ABHORRENT - BRIDGES
National leader Simon Bridges called the attack on reprehensible and abhorrent.
"It's a cowardly attack . . . a key question is whether this was simply a random attack, in which case it's terrible, or whether in fact it was because he was James Shaw MP.''
Mr Bridges, on a regional visit to Dunedin today, said he had texted Mr Shaw to express his and National's sympathies and concerns in the wake of the incident.
"We stand entirely with him. If this was an attack on him as an MP, it would an attack on our Parliament and our democracy.''
Mr Bridges, who was not accompanied by any security, said he hoped the incident would not hinder MP's continued ability to live their lives as normal.
"My thoughts are with James and also Annabel. When you go into politics in New Zealand you just don't expect these things to happen, and I know it will be especially challenging for loved ones," she said.
"We have an environment in New Zealand where politicians are accessible - and that's something we should feel proud of. We are after all, here to serve people. But today's events really show we cannot take that for granted.
"I think all of us will probably be united in wanting to ensure we have the kind of political environment where everyone can hold their views, but they can do that safely."
Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard has granted Mr Shaw compassionate leave from Parliament for the meantime.
- additional reporting by Mike Houlahan from ODT