A man beaten, stabbed and left for dead on a Napier street says he thought he'd "taken a bit of a bash" but was unaware he had been stabbed.

Luke Brown, 24, is back at home after coming close to death following the assault early on New Years Day.

Mr Brown said he remembered little about the night that began as a wander into town to check out New Year's Eve celebrations and ended in violence when he and his friend were set upon by three men.

Police said the attack appeared to have been sparked because of Mr Brown's red shirt, which his attackers, believed to have been associated with the Black Power gang, took for rival Mongrel Mob colours. Mr Brown has no gang associations.

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Mr Brown said he was keen to meet a man who came to his aid afterwards.

"I would like to say thank you to him," Mr Brown said.

"All I can remember is hearing this voice - he asked me if I needed an ambulance and I said 'yes'."

An ambulance was not available immediately and Mr Brown was put in the back of a police car which had arrived after reports of a fight at a house nearby.

The officers took him straight to a medical centre.

"I didn't know I'd been stabbed," Mr Brown said. "I just thought I'd taken a bit of a bash."

He understood the severity of the incident only when he was brought out of an induced coma a few days afterwards.

"I was pretty drugged up but I saw all these staples in me."

His rescuer, Sam McKeich, 24, said he would give Mr Brown a call, adding he was "real pleased" to hear he was back home and on the road to recovery.

He shrugged off the suggestion he was a hero in going to Mr Brown's aid - despite the possibility that the attacker could have returned.

"I didn't think about it - I saw him on the ground hunched over. He was clearly in deep shock ... he was staring blankly and having trouble talking."

Mr Brown, who is still in pain and facing a two-month recovery programme, said he was happy to leave hospital last Friday and get back home to family and friends.

Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Emmet Lynch, who heads the four-strong team of detectives investigating the incident, said Mr Brown's injuries, which had not been detected until he was taken for medical treatment, could have cost him his life had Mr McKeich not stopped to assist.

But Mr McKeich said: "[Mr Brown] is the hero in this ... because he pulled through, he lived."

Mr Brown said going out in future was an unsettling prospect, but he was determined to get his life back to normal.

"I just want to get on with things now."

Mr Lynch said police had received an "excellent" response from people who had come forward with information about the attack and he was confident the offenders would be found.

Police were checking reports that two of the offenders might have taken a taxi into town to get takeaways later that morning.

Forensic testing is being carried out on a 400mm bladed knife found near the attack scene, and a blue Colts American football cap found near an intersection through which the offenders had been seen running.