Two women have been arrested after a video of three women attacking Countdown staff went viral on YouTube.

The video shows two Countdown Rotorua staff trying to grab bags from a group of women as they try to leave the store. They verbally abuse the staff, kick them and hit them over the head.

The video has been uploaded to video sharing website YouTube and social networking website Facebook.

It has had over 15,000 views since being posted.

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It was taken by a Rotorua man who was sitting in a vehicle outside Countdown Rotorua on Fenton St and uploaded to Facebook on January 4. Since then it has been spread around Rotorua, New Zealand and Australia via the internet and attracted many negative comments from Rotorua people angered by the women's actions.

Rotorua Police said two women, a 50-year-old and a 30-year-old, both from Rotorua, have been charged with aggravated assault and theft, and will appear in the Rotorua District Court on January 15.

Acting Rotorua Area Commander, Inspector Ed van den Broek, said the Youtube clip was very useful to the investigation.

"Good solid police work had helped identify the alleged offenders, but the clip provided us with some visuals allowing us to confirm this work. We don't know who was responsible for the clip and whether they were associated with the offenders, but it has certainly been helpful.

"What has been especially pleasing is the number of people who have forwarded the clip to police via our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Many thought and hoped that we were investigating the incident, but they wanted to make sure we knew.

"This is fantastic because it means people are taking an active interest in the safety of their communities, and sharing information with us that they think is important. Social media provides a forum for them to be able to easily do that."

The staff who were assaulted and other customers were distressed by the incident.

Progressive Enterprises national communications and public affairs manager Luke Schepen said the incident happened about 10.30pm on January 4 and was a "distressing incident for both our team members and our customers on the day".

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He said the incident had been referred to police and was being investigated.

"It is extremely disappointing that these types of incidents do occur." Mr Schepen said.

The women were being stopped by staff because of an alleged theft from the supermarket.

"We take theft very seriously to ensure our customers and team members have a safe and secure place to work and shop," Mr Schepen said.

Rotorua police say they found out about the video on Monday afternoon and are now urging anyone who comes across any kind of attack or crime to alert them immediately by calling 111 so they can attend the incident while it's happening.

Acting Senior Sergeant Mike Membery of Rotorua police said they were told about the video yesterday and investigations into what he described as "quite a vicious assault" were starting yesterday.

He said while having video evidence of a crime was helpful to investigations he would prefer people gave it to police rather than upload it to the internet to avoid further pain for the victim.

"We'd prefer that they ring us on 111 ... we'd prefer not to find [out about it] on YouTube," he said.

Destination Rotorua marketing acting general manager Tania Bui said the video of "three unsavoury people" was negative not only for Rotorua but the community too, especially when those from outside the city saw the clip.

"I don't think anything like that, that is associated with Rotorua is a good thing for Rotorua," Ms Bui said.

"People need to realise that they can't behave in that way without it going viral and being seen."

She said if the women in the video clip were from Rotorua, "they should be hanging their heads in shame". She said not only was it embarrassing for them having been seen all around New Zealand and beyond, but it was a reflection on their family and who they were.

Warning: The video contains strong language.