A group of people have been arrested after a large brawl in Te Aro Park in Wellington last night.
When police responded the protagonists then turned on the officers and tried to prevent them from making arrests.
Videos filmed by witnesses captured the fight, which shows one man repeatedly swinging at a victim before others join in.
Sirens can be heard in the background.
A police media spokeswoman said they received a report of between five and six people fighting at Te Aro Park in the city’s centre shortly after 8pm.
Police arrested them shortly after.
No one was injured and no weapons were involved. There was nothing to suggest it was gang related, she said.
Wellington-based National list MP Nicola Willis said fights like this were the reason some many Wellingtonians felt unsafe in the central city.
She congratulated the police for taking early action and making a number of arrests, but believed more resources were needed so there were more police visible on the ground.
“We want to deter people from this behaviour – it does have consequences and we want to make sure they are caught. And I think more of that would be possible if we have a bigger police presence,” she said.
“I have just had so many stories told to me by people who have witnessed violence, threatening behaviour, abusive behaviour and that’s not what I want in my city.”
Her advice to anyone who argued Wellington didn’t have a problem, “Go watch that video”.
In March, Willis issued a challenge for MPs after violence continued to escalate in the capital city.
“I encourage any minister to walk down Courtenay Place, to walk through Manners Mall on any day of the week, at any time, and tell me they feel safe and if they don’t feel safe, they need to be doing more to ensure others can.”
Willis said she didn’t “feel safe” walking through the area.
She felt “really uncomfortable” walking through the city past patched gang members. She said some were “yelling, who are aggressive, it doesn’t feel like the Wellington I grew up in and it’s not the Wellington I want my kids to grow up in”.
The city’s safety had been in the spotlight recently after a string of serious assaults, including a fatal assault outside Te Papa earlier this year.
At the time, police data showed the number of sexual assaults in Wellington has increased by nearly 50 per cent in the past five years.
The number of acts intended to cause injury, including common and serious assault, has also grown by 35 per cent over the same period.
In a statement issued after Willis’ comments, Wellington City Council said there had been no reduction in CCTV monitoring and it had strengthened the programme “to provide the police and Wellington City Council to have a structured and planned approach to how we respond in real-time and/or to emerging issues in the city”.
“The CCTV base has a direct link (two-way radio contact) with the police for immediate response and has been directly instrumental in assisting with arrests.”
The City Safety CCTV team oversees 64 cameras in the city.
Wellington Central MP and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said across New Zealand there are concerns about gang activity, and they have to work together to make it safer.
“We’ve invested a significant amount of money in wrap-around services through programmes like Housing First but also through the work of a number of NGOs that we fund.”
He said it was important to them that those people are not back on the street.
In early May, banning patched gang members, increasing the brightness of lights, and bringing back volunteer monitoring of CCTV cameras were mooted as solutions to improve safety in Wellington.
Willis hosted a public meeting to discuss the issue of central city safety concerns.
Wellington hospitality operator Matt McLaughlin said he has never seen so many gang brawls, anti-social behaviour, violence and sexual harassment in his experience in the industry.
“It’s not the Wellington that I know, it’s not the Wellington that I was brought up in.”
But he said work was under way to turn that around, including high-vis uniforms for all security guards to wear.
“Just to be that presence and make people feel safer.”
Wellington mayor Andy Foster said progress was being made on addressing safety issues.
“We all need to be in this together and we can fix it and we will fix it.”
Bar owners, retailers, police and local councils had joined forces by committing to a “social contract”, which asks everyone to take collective action to address safety issues in Wellington’s CBD.
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