A group of neighbours say they were forced to break down a door to get to two young children locked inside after police arrested their father.
Officers arrived at a house in Lincoln Park Ave in Massey, West Auckland, to do a routine bail check late on Wednesday night.
The man they were looking for was found at a neighbour's house and was arrested for breaching bail.
Police said they could not say what he was charged for.
As officers took him to their vehicle, neighbours on the shared driveway came out to see what was happening and warned officers that the man had two young children - a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old - who were inside, asleep.
Neighbours said they became worried when none of the four officers, three men and a female officer, went inside to check on the two boys.
Jessica Kaulima said she and her partner were among a group of neighbours who had woken up to the commotion around 11pm.
"All the neighbours were outside and yelling at the cops: 'There's kids there, there's kids there'. They were just ignoring everyone else and not listening."
However, the version of events is disputed by police who say the man was asked if he was happy for his neighbour to look after the children.
Ms Kaulima said it appeared the children's father, who looked as if he were fainting, was trying to tell officers that his children were inside the house.
"He's a solo dad and so we all knew it was just the kids inside, asleep."
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she approached police and told them that she would take care of the children.
However when she and other neighbours asked to get the house keys from the man, who was in the back of the police vehicle, they were told: "No."
"They had pepper-sprayed him and locked him up. The kids were locked in the house - the cops knew that - and they didn't really care," she said.
"The cops were really upset with [him] and they just wouldn't let him give me the keys - don't know why ... and then the neighbours had to break in to get the kids out."
The woman, her family and several other neighbours told the Herald they had to break through a door to get to the two children.
Police yesterday said officers had been told by a female neighbour that she would take care of the two boys.
Police also said that the woman was physically taken to the man involved, who was then asked if he was happy that she take care of his children. However, asked if that had happened, she said: "No - no, they didn't."
She said police did not take any of her details, or check on the children yesterday morning, and for all they knew she could have been a stranger to them.
Sergeant Iain Chapman, of the Henderson police, said officers left the property satisfied that the children were in good hands.
He said the point had to be stressed that on the police's arrival, the children were already alone in the house.
Asked if police had checked on the children yesterday morning or throughout the day, he said that had not been done and admitted he did not know where the two boys were.
The children were last night with their mother, who does not live at the property.By Vaimoana Tapaleao Email Vaimoana