Regan Schoultz is an NZME news service reporter based in Auckland.

Police hit city streets to combat violence

A major police operation in central Auckland tonight will target alcohol-fuelled violence on the streets.

More than 70 police officers will be out in force as part of Operation Relentless - triple the number on the beat on a usual Saturday night.

It comes after footage emerged of a man being punched by a stranger at an Auckland club last weekend.

The victim, 33-year-old Fani Masaga, suffered a concussion and a broken jaw, which may be permanently damaged, he says.

Police are investigating the attack, one of a string of alcohol-related assaults in Auckland in the past few months which has spurred police to launch this weekend's blitz.

Police youth and communities manager Inspector Mark Benefield said the operation would ensure punters heading out for a night on the town were sent a clear message by police.

"If you're coming into the city over this period and intend to frequent the city's many bars, restaurants and clubs, then drink responsibly and keep yourself and your mates safe.

There will be zero tolerance on breaches of the alcohol ban.

"Retailers and licensees will also be reminded of their obligations with alcohol, especially around intoxication and minors."

The crackdown will include road checks, licensee checks and officers on the streets watching for anyone in breach of the alcohol ban and removing intoxicated patrons from bars and nightclubs.

It would focus on areas known for high rates of alcohol-related crime, including the Downtown area, Ponsonby and Mission Bay.

Mr Benefield said alcohol-related violence in the CBD was particularly bad after bars closed.

"People come out on to the streets and they have got more on board than they normally have and they get a bit shirty with people and the next minute they are fighting and a coward's punch might come in and then someone is down and seriously injured."

Police have pushed for earlier closing hours, but Auckland Council wants to keep closing times at 4am.

Mr Masaga said doctors have warned him his jaw could be permanently numb after it was broken in a single hit last weekend.

Graphic footage of the incident shows a man in a white shirt striking Mr Masaga as he walks off the dance floor in the bar. Mr Masaga falls to the floor while the man resumes dancing with a woman.

"I was dancing with a few Samoan ladies and I just don't know what happened after that," Mr Masaga said.

"It is really disturbing how he did it.

"He was watching me walk towards him and then slid off his wife and he just hailed this massive haymaker that I didn't even see coming."

The next thing he knew, he was on the floor.

After the incident, Mr Masaga went home with his friend but began to have trouble breathing and felt pain in his jaw, he said.

He went to Middlemore Hospital the following day where he had surgery to correct the break in his jaw. A steel plate and metal screws were inserted into his face to hold the bone in place.

Mr Masaga said the incident has completely disrupted his life.

"I can't sleep and I am constantly thinking about it. I can't chew, I can't swallow anything properly."

His jaw is so numb he can't feel a cup of tea on his lips.

"The doctors reckon I could be permanently numb. I'm off for six weeks and I can't play rugby league any more until it is healed.

"Even if it does heal I'm still unsure if I can play because of the concussion. He has destroyed my weekend and me as a person. I don't trust anyone."

Earlier this year, two men aged 18 and 24 were seriously injured in big alcohol-fuelled fights in the CBD. Two people have been arrested.

- NZ Herald

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