A spate of attacks on older people over the holiday period has been described as "the most feral form" of behaviour in society - but not an indication of a new social trend.
Although random, the attacks have all been on victims chosen for their age and vulnerability, police say, describing them as callous and disgusting.
But one senior police officer told the Herald there was no specific trend developing where older people were being targeted.
"Attacks on the elderly are an aspect of the most feral form of our primeval instincts," he said.
"The vast majority of people in a developed society have compassion to protect those in need - the young, the old, the vulnerable - but there's always been an evil component of those who only see opportunity in the weakness of others."
On New Year's Day, a 62-year old woman was bashed and sexually assaulted as she worked alone in a Nelson community garden.
The attack happened at about 2.30pm and the woman suffered substantial head and facial injuries, as well as other lacerations and bruising to her body.
Hours earlier an elderly Whangamata woman was woken in the night by a large bolt being fired through her glass door.
Police said the bolt smelled of gunpowder and a search of the property uncovered cardboard tubing from fireworks that had been unrolled to get at the gunpowder.
The woman, who police said was frail, was badly shaken by the incident.
Three days earlier, a 71-year-old Kawerau woman was beaten and left lying on her floor bleeding after a vicious home invasion. The woman answered her door at 1am, expecting to see a relative from overseas who had arrived in the country on a late flight.
Instead, an unknown man was on her doorstep demanding money. He forced his way into her home and bashed her, leaving her with a fractured cheekbone and jaw and suspected broken nose before taking off in her car.
On December 8, an 85-year-old woman was mugged in Auckland by a teenager. The woman was walking along Rangatira Rd in Beach Haven at about 5pm when she was approached by the youth, aged about 13 or 14. Police were outraged by the attack, which left the woman injured and shaken.
"As a result of the attempted theft the elderly lady was left bruised and cut due to being dragged over the pavement. I'm dead keen to get this toe rag," said a Beach Haven police officer on the area's Facebook page.
"How dare you think you can get away with this in my neighbourhood.
"I'm sure someone has witnessed this as it was in broad daylight. Someone knows who this is."
Can you help?
If you have information about any of these attacks, contact the relevant police station:
Nelson: (03) 546-3840
Whangamata: (07) 865-0300
Kawerau: (07) 323-1400 or Whakatane (07) 308-5255
Beach Haven: (09) 482-0294 or North Shore (09) 488-6200By Anna Leask @AnnaLeask Email Anna