Men arrested after Paihia beach attack

An 18-year-old Northlander has been seriously injured in an attack on Paihia beach - as was his father who was trying to rescue him.

Four Waitangi men, aged 22-39, have been arrested in relation to the incident. All face the charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years' jail.

Detective Sergeant Rhys Johnston, of Kerikeri police, said the incident stemmed from a minor scuffle outside one of Paihia's licensed premises on Thursday night. It appeared the two groups had then "got their backs up" about each others' presence in the town.

"That was followed by the usual macho posturing that leads to violence," he said.

After the bars closed at 1am, a large number of people remained on the streets. The victim, an 18-year-old from Kaikohe, feared the other group involved in the altercation was looking for him so called his parents and asked to be rescued.

His father arrived during the incident on the beach, sometime after 1.30am on Friday. The father tried to intervene and was also set upon.

The 18-year-old was left with bruises from head-to-toe and "a rather large hole" in the back of the head which needed 10 stitches to close, Mr Johnston said. His father suffered a fractured cheekbone, cuts and bruises. Both were allegedly kicked repeatedly and struck with weapons.

Four men were arrested late on Friday and appeared in Kaikohe District Court on Saturday morning. Three have been remanded in custody.

Mr Johnston said the alleged attack, in a town which relied heavily on tourism for jobs and income, was disappointing. Also disappointing was the element of "territorial nonsense" involved.

A large number of people witnessed the assault. Anyone who had not yet spoken to police was urged to call the Kerikeri station on (09) 407 9211.

Meanwhile, Paihia police are appealing for information on an unrelated attack on two young German tourists.

Sergeant Peter Masters said the 18-year-olds were sitting on a bench at the Kings Rd end of the beach about 12.30am on Saturday when they were approached by a man who tried to start an argument, then punched one on the nose and the other on the head.

Nothing was taken.

The offender was described as a tall male Maori with some dreadlocks and a tattoo on his left arm. Two friends were trying to hold him back. Call the Paihia station on (09) 402 7130 with any information.

- By Peter de Graaf of the Northern Advocate

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