4 Nov 2017

'They were taking away sticks from people'

2:18 pm on 4 November 2017

Police confiscated flags and sticks from league fans at a South Auckland car park last night as fresh violence broke out ahead of tonight's match between Samoa and Tonga.

Supporters of the Tonga and Toa Samoa rugby league teams have been congregating and brawling in South Auckland leading up to their World Cup match.

Supporters of the Tonga and Toa Samoa rugby league teams have been congregating and brawling in South Auckland leading up to their World Cup match. Photo: Photosport NZ

Six people were arrested in South Auckland last night after a fresh wave of violence ahead of tonight's rugby league clash between Samoa and Tonga in Hamilton.

Police said three people were arrested on East Tamaki Road near the Ōtara Markets, where about 300 to 400 people had gathered.

Another three people were arrested next to a McDonald's restaurant in Mangere, where 250 people had gathered.

Thursday night hundreds of people gathered at the Ōtara Town Centre and there were six arrests for brawling.

Ōtara Town Centre manager Rana Judge said police removed flags from cars which had gridlocked the intersection at the town centre.

"There were many cars going up and down with the big flags. Some of them had too many flags and I saw police taking them off from their cars ... and they were taking away sticks from people in case they started hitting people."

Mr Judge said police were forced to block the entry ways to the town centre, but hundreds of people were able to enter on foot.

He did not see any violence when he reviewed the CCTV footage, but the mood was tense.

Mr Judge said there would be increased patrols by Māori wardens, and he expected police numbers to be boosted too ahead of tonight's match.

He said the rain in Auckland may deter fans from looking for trouble tonight.

Business owners yesterday said customers were scared.

Town centre administrator David Vainui said school-aged fans had been using flags from a local $2 shop to conceal wood for weapons.

He said he'd had to confiscate and destroy 15 such weapons in the past week.

Police said it was unclear if the people arrested last night had been charged, as some may have been released without charge and warned for breach of the peace.