A cafe worker has described seeing a man lying face down in the grass of a central Auckland park hours before emergency services swarmed to help the victim who had critical injuries from a suspected assault.
The man was found by council workers in Victoria Park shortly after 8am and was taken to Auckland City Hospital with severe head injuries.
Police have cordoned off a section of the park and are working to find out the cause of his injuries.
Syl O'Reilly, a worker at a nearby business, said he saw the victim lying down in the park about 200m from Halsey St as he walked to work at 6.45am this morning.
"He was lying down face first on the grass. I thought he was sleeping or had drunk too much. He looked like a homeless guy and had his bag next to him, he just looked like he was sleeping or something."
Mr O'Reilly said the man had no obvious injuries and he saw nothing which made him think there had been a fight, such as blood on the ground.
A blue tent is being erected in Victoria Park by police to house evidence in case of rain.
Auckland City Police Detective Sergeant Kevin Blackman said all items of interest would be put inside the tent to avoid water contamination if it rained.
He said there was no obvious weapon found at the scene, "but then what's a weapon. We don't want to rule anything out."
He said the man's injuries were so severe they could be life threatening.
The man was still unconscious in hospital.
Ambulance crews arrived at the scene earlier, classifying the man, believed to be in his 30s, as status one -- critical -- and administering initial treatment before transporting the man to hospital.
Mark Bowater, Auckland Council parks manager, said: "Our parks maintenance contractor for Victoria Park found the man unresponsive and immediately dialled 111."
They stayed to support the victim until police and emergency services arrived just before 8am. We will assist the police however we can with their investigation.
"The staffer who found the victim is doing okay and will be supported through the council's employment assistance programme as required."
A witness said she could see a police cordon within the park near Fanshawe St bus stop.
An Auckland DHB spokeswoman said the man was still being assessed and an updated condition would be available later today.