Three men have been arrested after three people were stabbed in a brawl outside a bar in Auckland.

Bouncers had stopped a man who had stolen a woman's handbag around 10.50pm on Customs St.

The man's friends turned up and attacked the bouncers. One offender was armed with a knife and three people were stabbed.

One man was stabbed in the chest and taken to hospital in a serious condition. Two others received wounds to their arms.

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A 22-year-old and two 23-year-old males were arrested at the scene and are likely to face charges of aggravated wounding.

A man who has worked in the security industry for decades, and wants to remain anonymous, said he could see a violent incident like this brewing.

He believed bouncers were increasingly being required to step in to incidents outside the venue they were protecting, weren't properly trained in self-defence and did not have the right equipment such as stab-proof vests.

"Often those violent situations haven't even happened with people who've been at the bar. It's people who are preloading in car parks or people turned away at the door for intoxication.

"I'm a firm believer that crowd controllers, for their own safety, need more training than they already have.

"We just don't want to get stabbed."

On Friday night a 30-strong brawl broke out in Ponsonby outside the Vodka Room.

Fairfax reported that it started, according to a witness, when a group of men and women described as Caucasian yelled racial comments at bar staff of Indian descent.

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The Caucasian group were asked to leave by staff before the fight began. It calmed down after authorities arrived, the witness said.

A police spokeswoman told the Herald they were alerted at 11.09pm and the job was coded as disorder.

There were no injuries and it was reported to police as "no physical violence", she said.

"Police attended and spoke to a witness however the groups involved had dispersed.

"There is no indication in the job that there was a racial element to the incident."