The attack on a policewoman at Tauranga has brought painful memories flooding back for former Bay of Plenty police sergeant Russell Orr.
Mr Orr and a colleague were viciously assaulted by a drunken mob at a party at Taneatua, near Whakatane, in 1995.
Mr Orr's face was slashed with a bottle and the blood loss nearly killed him. One side of his face is still numb where the nerves were damaged.
His colleague suffered a broken eye socket and other injuries, and spent several months in hospital recuperating.
Mr Orr said his heart went out to the policewoman whose skull, shoulder and nose were fractured when she was attacked during a riot at a 21st birthday party in Welcome Bay on Sunday.
The Tauranga officer is today out of intensive care and stable.
Mr Orr decided to speak publicly for the first time about the ordeal he suffered - not just during the assault but in the courtroom facing his attackers and back on the job - after partygoers claimed that police used excessive force to quell the violence.
"It's brought back pretty savage memories," the 50-year-old said yesterday.
Mr Orr was a sergeant with 18 years in the force when the men charged with wounding him and his colleague appeared in court.
"During the trial of the persons responsible we were attacked again by the offenders via their lawyers, desperate to deflect blame from them on to us," he said.
He said he felt disgusted to see the same thing happening in Tauranga, with the police being forced to defend their use of pepper spray and batons in the riot.
It was symptomatic of a system that favoured criminals over victims, he said.
Mr Orr left the police in 2001, disillusioned by that system and what he believed was political undermining of the force.
"The culture had been attacked," he said.
"Legislation was being steadily brought in that was all about offenders' rights. "The police were steadily being hamstrung in their ability to manage public safety."
He believed the situation had worsened in the last few years, not least because the public was quick to criticise police but slow to recognise the good work they did.
Now a Whakatane district councillor, kiwifruit orchardist and IT specialist, Mr Orr said public attitudes towards attacks on police needed to change in the same way that attitudes to drink-driving had changed. "Why isn't it so publicly unacceptable for drunken louts to beat up police?" he asked.