There might have been 53 arrests on South Auckland streets and stern words from police after Tonga's historic 28-22 win over the Kiwis at the Rugby League World Cup - but the fans are still celebrating.

Police say Otahuhu's town centre descended into "significant disorder" about 9pm, resulting in the arrests.

"What started out as a celebration turned into mass disorder involving traffic gridlock, drunkenness and violence," said Senior Sergeant Clive Wood."

As family groups, revellers and other sports fans moved away and headed home, a hard core of people occupied the streets, let off fireworks near a petrol station, threw missiles at police, obstructed roads and footpaths and behaved in a very disorderly manner.

Advertisement

"At one stage an ambulance was prevented from getting to a medical emergency.

"These people, who appeared to have no care for anyone's welfare, didn't think about the consequences of their actions and I do hope they take time out to reflect on how badly they behaved".

Tonga fan Christina Fifita was in the midst of the action in Otahuhu and acknowledged the disorder - but said it was a fantastic night for lovers of the game and country.

"Tongans are very different when it comes to celebrating," she told Tony Veitch on his NZME radio show Veitchy on Sport this morning.

"As soon as we won we knew straight away we had to be amongst everyone else.

"It was amazing scenes, it's been like this for the last few week - since the Tonga team arrived in Auckland fans have just been celebrating."

Fifita expected the celebrations to last "the whole week".

"I think people need to put this in perspective," she said.

"This is a big thing for Tonga - it's a very small country and to have Tonga for the whole world to watch is a big thing for us and so the only way that we can celebrate it is with each other.

"And I guess the only way we can find each other is out on the road, and I tell you, that's probably going to last for the whole week."

The streets of south Auckland were last night filled with tooting horns, cheering and a sea of red and white flags after Tonga's historic 28-22 win over the Kiwis in yesterday afternoon's rugby league world cup game.

Fifita said she did not witness any of the disorder police described.

"It is only a few people that causes the problems, it's not the majority," she told Veitch.

"The majority of Tongans are just wanting to be happy... and if you saw the people it was mainly older ladies, younger kids just staging on the side of the road waving their flags.

"There are the stupid ones but you know, it's a very small minority."

She said Tonga's win was "huge".

"To get to this moment of winning against a big country like New Zealand -Tonga has nothing, this is huge for us," Fifita explained.

"There are so many emotions we go through - there's the happiness, but also I woke up this morning so proud. I couldn't even sleep last night.

"Winning is huge for us.

"I can't wait to wake up tomorrow and go to work - everyone will be talking about how magnificent Tonga is. I will be smiling from ear to ear, it's awesome for us."

During the tournament games involving Pacific nations have been marred by brawls and disorder in South Auckland.

Fifita said people did not understand what a win meant to the fans.

"I know there's a lot of negativity but regardless of what happens we should all get around and support the Pacific Islanders.

"This is a big thing for them and I think people need to understand that," she said.

Police said more than 50 officers had to be deployed to Otahuhu during the chaos, taking them away from other duties.

"This offending will not be tolerated and people will face the consequences for this type of behaviour," Wood said.