WELLINGTON – Officials plan to review security at New Zealand's Parliament after a man armed with an axe smashed the main glass entrance doors early Wednesday.
Police said they were called to the Parliament complex in Wellington just before 5:30 a.m. after getting reports that a man with an axe was on the grounds. Police said that after smashing the doors, the 31-year-old man didn't try to enter the building and was arrested within minutes without further incident.
New Zealand’s 120 lawmakers are currently on a summer break, and there were few people in the building at the time of the attack.
The man has been charged with intentional damage and possession of an offensive weapon. If found guilty, he could face up to seven years in prison. A judge temporarily suppressed the man's name, a common practice in New Zealand's justice system.
It was not immediately clear whether the recent attacks at the U.S. Capitol in Washington played any role in inspiring the New Zealand attack.
Rafael Gonzalez-Montero, the chief executive of Parliamentary Service, said it was important to maintain a balance between security and accessibility.
“I am proud that the New Zealand Parliament is one of the most open, accessible parliaments in the world and I very much hope that this continues,” he said in a statement. “Our parliament belongs to the people of New Zealand, and it is incredibly important to our democracy that people are able to visit, and interact with their parliament and elected representatives with ease.”
Gonzalez-Montero said the parliament remains a place where people are free to meet and express their opinions, and that hundreds of protests are held safely on the grounds every year.
However, he said, the safety of those who work at and visit the complex is crucial. He said officials are undertaking a full review of the incident and will assess whether changes to security measures are necessary.
Crews added retractable bollards in 2016 to prevent unauthorized vehicles getting too close to the Parliament, after a man posed a security threat by driving a truck up to the main entrance.