Police say a man who suffered critical head injuries outside a south Auckland fast-food restaurant early in the morning may have been king-hit.
The 36-year-old is in Auckland Hospital after the fight outside Denny's in Lakewood Court, Manukau. The fight happened about 3.20am on Saturday.
Detective Inspector Uraia Vakaruru said it appeared the victim and a friend were challenged to a fight by a group of three to five young men.
He said it was a matter of minutes between the two friends heading to buy food and one of them lying injured on the ground.
"The victim's friend has indicated that his friend's possibly suffered a punch, and then he's ended up on the ground," he said.
"Unsure as to then what's occurred - a few people have come out of the restaurant [to intervene], and then the three to five men have fled in the direction of the Manukau City Shopping Centre."
No CCTV footage of the assault has been found but police had not finished looking through images from neighbouring businesses, Mr Vakaruru said.
He said it did not seem like the 36-year-old victim and the group knew each other.
Auckland Hospital said the man, who had undergone surgery, was now in a critical but stable condition.
His mother was understood to be travelling from Australia to be with him.