MONIQUE DEVEREUX takes a walk on the wild side to see why downtown Auckland needs a private security force.
The tall, well-dressed man staggers into the middle of the intersection, waving his arms in an attempt to direct the traffic.
Highly intoxicated, he is oblivious to honking horns and angry motorists. Grinning, he lurches back to the footpath where he loudly greets two women.
He slings his arms around their shoulders, and the trio cross the street. The women try unsuccessfully to ignore his attentions until, while the man's attention is diverted, they make their escape.
He continues his merry weave through pedestrians, acknowledging some as if they were old friends, rebuking those who ignore him.
Minutes later he is lying in a pool of his own blood.
In his intoxicated state he chose to talk to the wrong people, a group of teenagers, some heavily tattooed, some with heavy chains wrapped around their hands.
They are drinking and smoking and the light-hearted banter between them and their new friend has quickly turned to angry threats of violence. "F*** off, leave us alone you pissed bastard."
A stocky youth, encouraged by his sober advantage, stands between the man and an argumentative girl.
"Leave my bitch alone."
The punch sends the man to the ground, his head hitting the footpath with a sickening crack. He lies still, blood matting his hair and creating a small pool on the concrete.
The group runs off, their yells of excitment drowned out by low-slung cars accelerating along the road, the boom boxes inside them cranked to maximum volume.
This is not a scene from a New York alley. This is Queen St, Auckland, Friday night.
It's a little after 10 pm and the Weekend Herald is checking out claims of hell-raising hoons taking over Queen St.
Heart of the City has set up a private police force to keep a watch on the boy racers, drunks and other undesirables they believe are turning Queen St into a danger zone.
Chief executive Alex Swney said it was a sign of frustration with the central Government's minimal policing in the central city.
The six-man squad, police-trained will be ready by Christmas.
The Auckland City Council, meanwhile, is trying to ban the consumption of alcohol downtown. A recent council forum revealed that Queen St in particular was a magnet for drunken young hoons.
Police reports show most offences committed in Queen St involve unemployed youths under the age of 16 for drink-driving, disorderly behaviour and assault.
And some beat cops say the kind of violence inflicted on Mr Intoxicated is all too common.
One officer, who did not want to be identified, said that by midnight Friday the "juvies will be swarming." Their mere presence unnerved people and their antics resulted in some of them being taken down to the station for questioning.
It kept them off the street for the night, but it tied police up in paperwork and "the truth is ... They'll be back on the street tomorrow."
The car hoons are another story.
They cruise Queen St, racing away when they have space, then hitting the brakes to avoid the cars banked up ahead.
The cars range from rusty Mazdas to late-model Hondas with paint-jobs - and stereos - worth thousands.
Their drivers are aged from 15 to 25, usually male. Nose-to-tail, they fill the main drag.
They leave Queen St at Aotea Square, heading left, up towards Albert Park, then down towards the waterfront.
They end up on Quay St, ready to begin the Queen St cruise all over again - every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, sometimes to 5 am.
The booming music and tyre-squealing is driving inner-city residents mad.
The beat cops have no answers.
Says one female officer: "There are so many, and half of those cars probably don't have warrants or regos. But unless they do something serious, we can't really stop them. We just keep an eye on them."
The cruisers don't see that they are upsetting people.
In an ageing Holden with a glossy red-and-white paint job, eight teenagers sit cosily, listening to music, slurping energy drinks.
Their cruise circuit is a big one: Mission Bay and back. They see friends, listen to music and show off.
"We all put in $10 for petrol and that fills up the car for the night. We listen to the music we like, we are with our friends," say the boys in the front seat.
"We're not hurting anyone. And it's cheaper than going to the pub."
Not all boy racers are so laid-back.
Some throw empty beer bottles at bystanders. Others yell abuse at women.
"Take my picture man," one young man urges our photographer through his open window. "Go on, I'm a rapist."
Welcome to Queen St, Auckland, Friday night.