We've seen it all month – the red and white flags of the tiny Pacific Island nation of Tonga flying proudly out of car windows and on street corners.

It appears they've all descended on south Auckland today as the red-hot Tongan team prepare for the biggest game in the country's proud rugby and rugby league history.

Those that haven't managed to secure tickets to the League World Cup semifinal against England at what will be a jam-packed Mt Smart Stadium – the first time in 22 years it has been sold out – haven't let that stop them getting behind their team.

With epic victories over New Zealand and Samoa fresh under their belt, fans are confident of a Tongan win against a skilled, tier one England team and a place in the final against Australia.


On a warm and pleasant afternoon on Otahuhu's Princess St, car horns tooted long and proud and extended cries of "Tonga!" reverberated around the town centre.

South Auckland is the home to the world's largest Pasifika population and Otahuhu has become the unofficial fan-zone for Tongan fans, with many New Zealanders and people of other Pacific nations getting behind the team.

The atmosphere on the streets is electrifying and infectious and it's very, very loud.

It seems every car is an official mascot for the Tongan team and every single person — young and old — a member of the squad.

Ben Matangi and his mates were covered head to toe in red and in no doubt about who would win tonight.

"It's exciting-as eh, all the Tongans representing their country.

"England are a pretty good side but I reckon the guys are going to take the win. Jason Taumalolo, he's all we need eh. MMT - Mate Ma'a Tonga [die for Tonga]!"

The otherwise vibrant atmosphere the tournament has brought to Auckland has been marred by violent clashes that have resulted in two police officers being injured and multiple arrests.


Extra frontline officers have been brought in for tonight's game and crowds have been warned to be on their best behaviour with the promise of a zero tolerance approach to drunk and disorderly groups.

Police said an alcohol ban in place around Otahuhu town centre would be "strictly enforced".

A police officer was knocked unconscious by one reveller while patrolling in Otahuhu last weekend while another officer was struck in the face with a flagpole, and has only just returned to work on light duties.

A man was arrested in relation to the latter incident but the officer who was hit last weekend is still off work and police haven't found the offender.

Clashes in Otahuhu erupted earlier in the month with hundreds of Tonga and Samoa supporters, some armed with weapons, brawling on public streets. Dozens of arrests have been made following Saturday night games since.