A witness has described abandoning his groceries at an east Auckland supermarket after a man pepper-sprayed staff and shoppers.
Howick resident Mike Turinsky said the incident unfolded about 7pm on Monday at the New World in Howick.
He said he noticed some staff pulling their shirts up over their faces, and was told to do the same.
Mr Turinsky said people very quickly started coughing uncontrollably, and the store was then evacuated.
Five customers and up to eight employees who had been sprayed were treated in the car park by paramedics.
Police confirmed a man trying to steal items used pepper spray, or something similar, on store staff before running off. He was still being sought, they said.