A real estate agent standing for office in New Zealand has been criticised for gatecrashing and campaigning at a six-year-old’s birthday party.

Paula Muollo didn’t deny showing up at the shindig, held at a church in Wellington’s Island Bay on September 25, where she handed out business cards and flyers, and took photos which later appeared on her campaign Facebook page.

The kid’s mother told Stuff she initially thought Muollo – who’s running for a seat in the Paekawakawa/Southern ward – was a parent of one of her child’s guests.

“If I’d known she was campaigning I would have asked her to stop,” Waima Ratana said.

Muollo said she thought she was welcome after being offered a cup of tea. 

“It was never deliberate gatecrashing, I just knew people at the event. I feel like I’m being targeted,” she told Stuff, denying she made legal threats against the family after they complained about her behaviour.

“[I was] just asking, ‘Do I need to get a lawyer involved?'”

Voting in New Zealand’s local elections closes on October 8.