10 Nov 2022

Parliament protester Paul Harris who once attacked James Shaw earns new conviction

3:06 pm on 10 November 2022

By Melissa Nightingale and Hazel Osborne, Reporter of NZ Herald

Greens Party co-leader James Shaw turned out for the schools' climate change strike, despite being injured in an attack the day prior.

Harris was imprisoned in 2019 for an unprovoked attack on James Shaw in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

A man who was once jailed for a violent attack on Green Party co-leader James Shaw has received a new conviction for his actions following the Parliament riot earlier this year.

Paul Raymond Harris was yesterday convicted and fined $500 for disorderly behaviour after an incident outside a marae in Wainuiomata that happened in the aftermath of the anti-mandate protest in Wellington.

The 50-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced in the Hutt Valley District Court for the offending.

Harris, a resident of Wainuiomata, caused a scene outside Kokiri Marae when he refused to move his vehicle after being asked to do so by locals.

Migrating from the protests at Parliament, Harris was one of a group who were thought to be seeking out new areas to regroup following the violent demise of "camp freedom".

A scuffle broke out between locals and protesters and Harris was taken from the scene by police.

At the time of the arrest, community leaders had set up a cordon to ward off protesters who had said they would be seeking refuge at the Lower Hutt marae.

Kokiri Marae general manager Teresea Olsen spoke to the Herald on the day of the arrest and told a reporter that she had nothing against the protesters but did not want them bringing their "violence" into the Lower Hutt community.

A police operation brought the 23-day demonstration to an end in March, after anti-mandate protesters gridlocked central Wellington streets and constructed a tent occupation outside Parliament.

It came to a blazing end after police moved in on protesters, and a fire was started on Parliament's lawn.

Harris is not a stranger to the court, having been imprisoned in 2019 for an unprovoked attack on Shaw as the politician walked to Parliament from his home in Karori.

Harris had told the court he was driving to work when he saw Shaw walking down the street, so made a U-turn and parked his van.

He said he initially wanted to talk to him and had been "overcome with grief with the recent loss of a child" when his wife miscarried a couple of days before.

He said "all the talk on the airwaves about abortion" meant his emotions were running high.

Judge Ian Mill said at Harris' 2019 sentencing he had recognised Shaw as someone "who you had seen on TV and someone who has promoting a relaxation of the abortion laws, something which you disagree with".

Shaw turned to leave, and Harris then grabbed him by the lapel and punched him in the eye, continuing to hit him three or four times before pushing him to the ground.

A witness was walking to work with her husband when they intervened and stopped the assault, after she saw Shaw curled on the ground and Harris standing over and punching him.

According to Shaw's victim impact statement, during the attack he "just simply didn't know when the hitting would stop".

After being treated by paramedics at the scene of the attack, Shaw continued on to work, but had to visit the hospital emergency department after his nose started bleeding later in the day.

His right orbital plate was fractured, and the injury had been bleeding into his sinuses.

Harris was sentenced to nine months in prison for the assault.

*This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.