Waipukurau police have expressed shock that a large crowd started brawling after a bar closed as Christmas Day started.
Senior Constable Damon Horrocks said a large crowd congregated outside Dax Bar and Restaurant on Herbert St following the closure of the town's drinking establishments at midnight "and things went pear-shaped".
The two constables on duty were forced to call for backup. "There were a number of brawls on the footpath, on the street and on the vacant land opposite the bar," Mr Horrocks said.
It took almost 40 minutes to disperse the fighting crowd. Reinforcements arrived from Waipukurau and Hastings.
"Several people were introduced to OC [pepper] spray."
He said no arrests were made "but that was purely because they were constantly trying to break up fights".
There was no report of any weapon used "but there was kicking and stomping".
A St John ambulance spokesperson said there were no calls for assistance and Mr Horrocks said no complaints have been made to police regarding the brawls.
He said the police officers remained safe and unharmed "but are angry about the behaviour".
Throughout his career, in several New Zealand postings, Mr Horrocks said he had never struck such behaviour at a time of year when, for most people, the emphasis was on goodwill.
"You can understand some financial stress and the usual personal problems at Christmas time, but to have big brawls and scraps is just crazy behaviour," Mr Horrocks said.