Election 2023: Labour's Taranaki-King Country candidate Angela Roberts 'slapped' at local election debate

Labour's Angela Roberts
Labour's Angela Roberts Photo credit: Angela Roberts / Facebook


A Labour candidate says she was slapped by an aggressive member of the public while at a local election debate this week.

Angela Roberts, a candidate for Taranaki-King Country, took to social media on Friday to inform her followers of an incident that happened on Tuesday.

Roberts said she was at a campaign debate at her local Rotary Club in Inglewood.

Following the debate, Roberts said she was having a discussion with a "tall man" about education policy and other things when "aggressive finger-pointing started".

"Then things took a turn for the worse," she said.

"He grabbed my shoulders and shook me in order to emphasise the point he was making. Then he slapped my cheeks with both hands.

"At this point I walked away and gathered my things and he left. Others checked that I was okay. I said that I was and left for home."

Roberts said she thought that would be the end of it, and then realised it was important to take a stand and call on the man's aggression.

"Manhandling candidates on the campaign trail is completely unacceptable.

"I don't know why he felt that it was okay to grab me or to slap me; that is a question for him. Would he have done it to a man? Who knows. What I do know is that it cannot happen again."

Roberts said she expected to be challenged at debates and public meetings throughout the election campaign but such aggression was never okay.

"I don't expect everyone to agree with me or my party's policies or values. That's fine - it's a contest of ideas after all. But I do not accept that any aggression is ever okay.

"It feels like, incrementally, there is a growing acceptance of aggression in politics and our democratic processes. This must change.

"We need to ensure that New Zealand is a safe place for democracy to thrive; a safe place for those who are curious about the implications of their voting decisions, and a safe place for political candidates."

Roberts thanked National Party candidate Barbara Kuriger and her team for supporting her following the incident.