Man charged with smashing New Zealand parliament doors with axe

FILE PHOTO: People stand outside the executive wing of the New Zealand Parliament complex, popularly known as "Beehive" because of the building’s shape, in Wellington, New Zealand July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Praveen Menon/File Photo

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand police arrested a man who smashed the glass doors of the parliament with an axe on Wednesday, although he did not attempt to enter the building.

Police were called to the parliament building, known as the Beehive, about 5:30 a.m. after a 31-year-old man was spotted with an axe. He was arrested in about 10 minutes, the police said in a statement.

“The man caused some damage to glass panels but did not attempt to enter the building,” the police said.

New Zealand’s lawmakers are on summer break, and there were few people in the building at the time. The reason behind the attack was unclear and the police were investigating.

The man was due to appear in Wellington district court later Wednesday and has been charged with intentional damage and possession of an offensive weapon.

Attacks on the parliament and on lawmakers are rare in New Zealand, a country of 5 million people, where ministers and top officials walk freely and are often seen mixing with the public at shops and cafes in the capital, Wellington.

In another rare attack in 2019, Climate Change minister James Shaw was punched in the face while walking to work.

Reporting by Praveen Menon. Editing by Gerry Doyle