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Driver allegedly aims car at National candidate and team in New Lynn

Derek Cheng, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Oct 2023, 9:28AM
Paulo Garcia. Photo / NZ Herald
Paulo Garcia. Photo / NZ Herald

Driver allegedly aims car at National candidate and team in New Lynn

Derek Cheng, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Oct 2023, 9:28AM

National candidate for New Lynn, Paulo Garcia, has narrowly avoided being hit by a car in an alleged attack by someone who was waving a Labour sign. 

It is the latest in a series of alleged incidents that have brought intimidation of political candidates into the spotlight this election. 

No one was hurt and police responded immediately to the incident yesterday afternoon in New Lynn, a spokesperson for the National Party said. 

“Yesterday, a man drove towards our New Lynn candidate and supporters and swerved at the last moment to avoid them. He got out waving a [Labour New Lynn candidate] Deborah Russell hoarding. There’s no suggestion this incident is related to Labour. 

“It won’t deter our teams from continuing to run strong local campaigns.” 

A spokesman for Labour responded: “To the best of our knowledge, this is not anyone that is part of the Labour campaign. We completely condemn any attempts to intimidate people taking part in the democratic process.” 

A police spokesperson said a 25-year-old man is due in Waitākere District Court tomorrow. 

“A vehicle was reportedly driven towards a group of people campaigning on the side of the road,” police said. 

“The vehicle stopped and the male driver got out, behaving aggressively, before pushing one of the people. He was arrested by police nearby a short time later, and the vehicle he was in was searched.” 

The man is charged with common assault, driving while disqualified, behaving threateningly, possession of cannabis for supply, and failure to carry out obligations in relation to a computer search. 

It’s the latest in a series of events where the safety of candidates has been highlighted, including Labour MP Angela Roberts being slapped after a political debate, National supporters being chased down the street in Manurewa, and Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime being shouted down at a candidates’ meeting. 

National has laid complaints with the police about gang intimidation and one alleged dog attack that left one person injured. 

Earlier this week, Graeme Gunn was served a trespass notice after he allegedly entered Te Pāti Māori candidate Hana-Rāwhiti Maipi-Clarke’s Huntly house uninvited. 

“No way would I ever do anything to harm her. I don’t care who I vote for, I still wish her the best of luck,” Gunn told Newshub. 

It followed claims by Te Pāti Māori of politically and racially motivated attacks on Maipi-Clarke, including several home invasions, vandalism and a threatening letter left at her house. 

Te Pāti Māori said that the rhetoric of right-wing politicians had emboldened such behaviour, which National and Act rejected, while NZ First Winston Peters said there had been no home invasions and it was a political stunt from Te Pāti Māori. 

But Detective Inspector Darrell Harpur said no criminality had been established. 

“Police do not believe that the incidents have been racially motivated or co-ordinated. While we acknowledge that the incidents in which people have come on to the property will have been unsettling, we do not believe these constitute a home invasion-style entry into the house.” 

The National Party said an elderly member of the party has had “grossly exaggerated allegations made about them”. 

“It is incredibly disappointing and upsetting for this individual to be dragged into a political stunt like this.” 

Te Pāti Māori president John Tamihere described the police investigation as a “whitewash” and said he would take civil action against the trespasser after the election. 

Tamihere told Newstalk ZB: “That’s why the police are not widely trusted in our communities. We can only tell them [the police] what happened. They can then listen to what the white male said, and they prefer the white male story of events. So, you can believe what you believe. We definitely believe our truth.” 

Derek Cheng is a senior journalist who started at the Herald in 2004. He has worked several stints in the press gallery and is a former deputy political editor. 

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