The number of assaults and disorders in central Auckland on Friday and Saturday nights have been on the rise since restrictions on nightclubs and bars were lifted.
Two weekends ago, four individuals were assaulted over disagreements concerning a lighter while walking in the Viaduct. One of the victims, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear for her safety, explains how more than 10-15 guys "came up" to the group and asked them for a lighter.
When she and her friend said they didn't have one, the group asked: "Is it because we're brown?" To which she told them, "No, we're half-caste".
It was then the situation escalated with the group becoming angry at the four individuals, claiming, "We're not scared to hit a girl." The big group swung at the victims, resulting in overnight hospitalisation.
These are some of the many incidents occurring on weekend nights out since the country entered alert level 1.
Auckland Police issued a media release regarding the state of assaults and alcohol-based violence in the central Auckland area a few weeks ago. Police have also uploaded a video showcasing some incidents of assaults and disorders happening on Friday and Saturday nights.
Following the release of the media statement, increased police presence on these nights has been needed because of the ongoing state of violence in bars and clubs. Extra support from the police were stationed all over Auckland's CBD last weekend as they were massively "concerned about the volume of assaults and the levels of intoxication" within the city.
Rachel Dolheguy, the acting inspector and area prevention manager for Auckland Central, has attributed the surge of violence to an "unprecedented level of people in the CBD, especially for winter".
She said people were coming in large groups, around 10-12 individuals as a whole. These large numbers are a major cause of trouble.
"Just two Fridays ago, we had two serious assaults on Fort St that required ambulances. We had them sent to the hospital to check for concussions, serious lacerations, bleeding."
She explained how these incidents could be entirely unprovoked.
"You can have a disagreement with someone and before you know it, you get knocked out."
Part of the reason for high levels of intoxication is believed to be due to people being "stuck in lockdown" for quite some time.
According to data collated on the NZ police's Crime Snapshot, assault-based victimisations numbers jumped from 264 in April to 421 in May. This is a 59 poer cent increase in one month alone. The timing of the jump succinctly coincides with the country's move to Level 2 on May 18 with the date for bars reopening on May 21st.
St John Auckland central territory manager Richard Gray has also noticed a spike in alcohol-related assaults the first weekend bars were opened after lockdown.
"This indicates many people were out socialising and taking the first opportunity for several months to catch up and celebrate with friends, and attend the first sporting events with crowds for a long time."
He said: "While St John has experienced a higher workload and more incidents of alcohol and assaults since the country came out of lockdown, St John ambulance officers, like police officers are trained in de-escalating situations and dealing with intoxicated people."