Police arrest 53 in NZ after Tonga’s win

AUCKLAND – Police arrested 53 people in Otahuhu, south Auckland, after celebrations turned ugly following Tonga’s Rugby League World Cup win over the Kiwis on Saturday.

Senior Sergeant Clive Wood said people “let off fireworks near a petrol station, threw missiles at police, obstructed roads and footpaths and behaved in a very disorderly manner” in Otahuhu’s main shopping area after 9pm.

At one stage, an ambulance was prevented from getting to a medical emergency, he said.

Tonga fans celebrated peacefully in Mangere on Saturday, but in nearby Otahuhu, fights broke out.

“These people, who appeared to have no care for anyone’s welfare, didn’t think about the consequences of their actions and I do hope they take time out to reflect on how badly they behaved.”

Tongan flags were everywhere in south Auckland on Saturday night.

“This offending will not be tolerated and people will face the consequences for this type of behaviour,” Wood said.

Police had asked the public to avoid the Otahuhu town centre on Saturday night as the incidents unfolded.

Police stationed around the town centre said several fights had broken out.

“We really hope it’s not like this next week – please tell them it doesn’t have to be,” one policeman said.

Another said there were also concerns with so many children on the streets late at night, and with people hanging out of moving car windows.

One young boy was seen jumping up and down on a van’s roof, and many people were wandering between moving cars.

Otahuhu’s arteries were clogged with cars waving the red Tongan flag out of their windows and honking horns at 10pm.

Vengaboys songs blared down the main street as joyful Tonga supporters danced through the night.

It comes a week after a large street fight broke out in Otahuhu following Tonga’s victory over Samoa.

Tonga had been behind 16-2 at halftime against the Kiwis in Hamilton, but scored a flurry of tries to take the lead in the second half, winning 28-22.

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