Whanganui hit-and-run victim Jesse Minnell has woken up and is speaking to loved ones after suffering brain bleeds, his mother says.

Minnell, 24, who works in Palmerston North, had come home to Whanganui for a visit in the weekend and was out with friends when he was hit.

Minutes before the incident, which happened about 2.20am on Saturday, a fight between 10-15 people broke out outside the Red Lion Inn on Anzac Parade.

Police were present, trying to break up the fight, when Minnell was hit by a car, suffering serious head injuries. The driver fled the scene.


Michael Robert Pollard, 61, has been arrested and charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and driving while prohibited.

Pollard was granted bail in the Whanganui District Court today.

Minnell, who was initially in a critical condition, is now stable in Wellington Hospital.

On Tuesday his mother, Cathy Minnell, said he had started to open his eyes.

"Jess made eye contact and smiled at me yesterday, such a relief," she said.

"He's getting more lucid all the time."

She said Minnell was "better than we expected" but his recovery was "obviously not going to happen overnight".

She could not say yet what the long-terms effects might be, as it was still early days.

Minnell has started speaking.

"Lots of it's gobbledygook ... but he's said a few words and a couple of sentences that were coherent."

She said he didn't know where he was and hadn't been able to talk about what happened to him. About 12 of his friends have been to visit him in hospital, and his boss.

"He's got so much love and support around him, which is so good."

She and Minnell's father, Tim, are "relieved" their son is not as unwell as they initially thought.

They have been praying, "although we're not religious".

She wanted to thank the Wellington and Whanganui Hospital staff, who had been "wonderful".

"We are overwhelmed by the support from family and friends, but obviously our main focus is Jesse."