A violent attack on an Auckland church by an armed mob yesterday followed a dispute over speaking rights, church members have said.
Two men, aged 54 and 29, were arrested after a machete was used to attack a room at the church where an alleged assault victim was cowering.
The attack followed a 10-minute beating in which a woman dived on top of her husband's body to stop blows from a plank of wood.
The two men who allegedly carried out the beating left the church and later returned with a five-strong mob. They allegedly smashed a window in a frenzied attack while police and ambulance officers barricaded a door.
Police reinforcements arrived within minutes and arrested two men.
Two elders of the former St Enoch's Presbyterian Church, now known as the Pacific Island Presbyterian Church, in Mt Roskill, said the 54-year-old man was an elder whose sister had held speaking rights at the church.
The elders, who asked not to be named, said a dispute over the man's speaking rights began brewing when his sister moved to Australia.
"It started small, then it got bigger," the wife of one of the church elders said today.
A church meeting was about to begin shortly before midday yesterday when a fist-fight allegedly broke out between the 54-year-old man and another man in his 40s on the forecourt of the church.
The elder's wife said the 54-year-old man used a "stick" to attack the victim and "started punching him in front of his car". The man's brother-in-law then ran out of the meeting to join the attack.
Witness Eti Militoni described the "stick" as a foot-wide plank of wood. As the victim was beaten and bitten in the eye, his wife lay on top of him and was herself beaten in an attack lasting 10 minutes, the elder's wife said.
"Lucky she was there, else he would have died," the elder's wife said.
Police and ambulance officers were called following the beating.
The alleged attackers left the scene but returned "in under 10 minutes" with a machete and a mob which Mrs Militoni estimated to contain five men.
Superintendent Richard Chambers said the mob "threatened to kill police, ambulance staff and people who were attending the church gathering".
The attending sergeant barricaded the church doors while the men conducted a frenzied attack on the door and windows, trying to gain entry with the machete.
"He attempted to reason with the men through the window, in an effort to calm them down, however this was unsuccessful," Superintendent Chambers said.
The alleged attackers ran from the scene when they heard police sirens arriving but were caught shortly afterwards.
Two men will appear in Auckland District Court on Monday morning.
A 54-year-old man was charged with serious assault in relation to the initial disorder, and a 29-year-old man was charged with threatening to kill, possession of an offensive weapon and intentional damage in relation to the second attack.