A Queenstown man was fatally stabbed in Invercargill early yesterday, the latest in a series of serious and fatal attacks involving knives.
And last night, two people were recovering from stab wounds after a party got out of hand in the eastern Bay of Plenty town of Edgecumbe, while two teenagers are in custody after a stabbing at a high school ball after-party on the South Island's West Coast.
The fatal stabbing of businessman Austin Hemmings as he left work in downtown Auckland on Thursday evening has thrown the spotlight on the increasing number of serious, and often fatal, knife attacks in New Zealand. Hemmings was the fifth person to be stabbed to death in Auckland City since mid-July.
Queenstown plasterer Darnell Leslie, 31, died early yesterday after he was found stabbed and unconscious in an Invercargill street. He became the country's 51st murder victim this year - there were 45 murders last year.
A 26-year-old man - suffering less serious injuries - was found at the same address and was taken into police custody, said Senior Sergeant Olaf Jensen. Police continued scene examinations on two houses in Invercargill.
Leslie's family and friends were too distraught to speak about the self-employed interior plasterer. The Burnside High School educated man had lived in Queenstown for the past six years. According to a website, he was single, athletic, with a passion for rugby league, and loved Kiwi band Blindspott, so much so, that he had the name tattooed on his back.
"I am a very hard working guy, who is looking for my true love, a best friend and soulmate," Leslie wrote on the dating website.
"The night life in Queenstown is truly amazing. I love the outdoors, fishing, walks on the beach, or around the lakes. I have a passion for snowboarding the mountains."
Frontline health and community workers are reporting a rise in stabbing assaults over past years.
Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland was treating more victims of knife crime, said spokeswoman Lauren Young.
"We are getting more stabbings and we are getting more of all kinds of violence. It's stretching our staff."
Police have noted a rise in the severity of assaults and the number of people using weapons for some time. Last year, then Counties Manukau police boss Steve Shortland told the Herald on Sunday: "Where before you might have punched somebody, now people are using weapons of all sorts - rocks, fence palings, vehicles, axes, baseball bats."
South Auckland youth worker Peter Sykes said yesterday that more people were carrying knives for self-defence, as well as for fighting.
"Part of it is because we create a community of fear, and people think that they need to defend themselves.
"It's not just young people, people of all ages are scared and sleeping with knives under their beds. You'd be hard-pressed to find a shopkeeper without some weapon close by.
"At the moment the myth is that police cannot handle violence, and we have to handle it ourselves."
He'd also noticed a new trend in organised gang street-fights for pre-arranged outsiders to run in, stab a victim and flee the scene.
"When I started youth work police would pick you up if you had a weapon on you and you could be charged. Now, I don't think police have got the time to pick up everybody with a weapon."
Statistics NZ figures show a 20 per cent jump in under-17-year-olds being caught for violence since 2003.
Fatal knife attacks:
Five people have died from knife attacks in Auckland city since mid-July.
July 19: David Roberts and Deni Rudiantonio are fatally stabbed in an inner-city apartment block. Iraqi Baseem Ridha Abbad Almery is arrested after an 11th-storey stand-off with police.
September 2: Yi Ren, a 30-year-old Chinese national, is found dead in an inner-city apartment. Peng Cheng Tian, 23, a Chinese student is arrested.
September 7: A 60-year-old man dies from stab wounds after a domestic dispute in a Mt Roskill home. A man, 30, is charged with assault.
September 26: Austin Hemmings, 44, is fatally stabbed in the Auckland city centre.