Barry Rusher will have to learn to walk again after he was knocked to the ground and stomped on by a stranger in Auckland's Viaduct, taking him out of work for months.
He is one of many people who have contacted the Herald detailing serious injuries they or a family member are suffering from after falling victim to a random, violent attack in the CBD this year.
Police confirm there has been a spike in violence, some unprovoked and some gang-related, particularly after alert level 3 restrictions were lifted. Hotspots include the Viaduct area, near Fort St and Karangahape Rd.
"Unfortunately a lot of it is fuelled by alcohol and we generally see it increase after midnight," said area commander Inspector Scott Gemmell.
"Some of it is associated with people out on the streets after bars close."
Victims who spoke to the Herald all support calls for a larger police presence in the area, and want to see more urgency applied to their case.
Rusher was hit on the head from behind, and had his ankle and leg stomped on while waiting to get an Uber home from his 50th birthday celebrations in the early hours of February 7.
In hospital he learned he had a shattered ankle, broken fibula and swelling so great he had to wait a week before getting operated on.
"He's pretty much out of work for six to eight months, the hospital and surgeons have told him. He's going to have to learn to walk again and they are unsure if he may need follow up surgery," said his wife Tanya.
"It's had a significant impact on our family life - We've got small children and he can't work. We've obviously had a huge loss of income."
The Rushers aren't alone.
A man was left unconscious for nearly 10 hours and could face possible spinal damage after a coward punch to his head while he was at on the corner of Lower Hobson St and Custom St West early Sunday morning. He still remains in hospital.
He was with a group of three men leaving Pointers Bar & Grill, walking to find a taxi home.
A close friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Herald the men were attacked by seven youths who appeared to be in their 20s.
She claims police took statements from witnesses but did not pursue the offenders.
"It's their job to keep people safe, even to reassure the family if they're working to find the offender. The responsibility shouldn't sit with the families to follow up, particularly since they are still in hospital."
Gemmell told the Herald delays are "incredibly unfortunate" but he wants to reassure victims they will be following up with their cases.
One night earlier, a family of 13 were attacked by a group armed with bottles and hammers, leaving five people injured. They told the Herald they were ambushed on the corner of Wyndham and Federal St after leaving a karaoke bar.
Police are reviewing CCTV footage of the incident, as well as "items of interest" from the scene. Victims continue to be interviewed.
But affected families believe the police response has been lacklustre.
Rusher was interviewed in hospital but Tanya said they have had no update since.
"Police just don't really seem to care. I feel like they are just too busy and this happens all the time and they don't know how to control it, or there's not enough resources to control it.
"Unless you die. They're really not interested."
Gemmell said the incident was not reported until four days after it happened. Due to an administration oversight, there was a delay in the file being assigned to an investigator.
"We have apologised over the delay in reporting but the investigation is well under way and the victims are being communicated with," said Gemmell.
Heart of the City spokeswoman Viv Beck said police appear to be under-resourced in Auckland's CBD. She is calling for a larger police presence to tackle what she believes is an increase in crime and antisocial behaviour.
"A variety of things causing it; economic fallout from Covid, it seems to be new people who may be arriving who may not have the support they need, some of it is people gravitating to places that are busier and not having enough to do," she said.
"I do hear quite a bit that people are housed temporarily overnight but they don't have enough to do during the day."
Beck also believes greater support from Government for services that tackle mental health and addiction would help to curb crime.
"Up until now issues have been largely isolated in terms of serious crime, but we are concerned to hear of more being expressed and we certainly don't want to see it get worse."
Police say additional staff are deployed over the weekend, but the most effective method of curbing violent behaviour is the community not condoning it when they see it.
"To have the strength to call your own friends aside and say, 'This is not who we are'," said Gemmell.
"We're working with nightclubs in town in order to manage the closing times and how people can get home safely."
Gemmell urges partygoers to go home with someone else and to pre-book or pre-plan a journey home in advance.
He told the Herald officers have also been assaulted while on patrol, and experience verbal abuse and spitting.
"One thing that keeps me up is their safety. I do worry about the staff members as they are out doing the best they can to keep everybody safe."
Restaurant staff fear for their safety
The owner of a local restaurant for 24 years told the Herald they have been shocked at the deterioration of safety in the city.
The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, says a lot of customers are scared to come into the central city and staff and fellow workers who operate businesses in the CBD often find themselves being threatened regularly.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said three members contacted her on Monday with safety concerns.
In one instance, a staffer no longer feels safe locking up the business at night because they were approached over the past few weeks by individuals with a threatening manner, demanding money.
"It's disappointing off the back of a challenging year, when we're meant to be attracting customers."
Bidois reminded businesses to have a buddy system and to make sure no one is locking up alone. She urges any members with safety concerns to contact the association.
She said it's especially important diners feel safe in the CBD, as businesses scramble to bounce back from Covid-19's economic fallout.
"Visitor numbers have been low as a result of the pandemic so it's really important that local diners get out and support their local businesses."