Man fights for life after bar punch

 A man left fighting for his life after an assault in a central Auckland bar was felled with a single punch he didn't see coming, say staff who witnessed the unprovoked attack.

Karan Pant, 25, was seriously injured in the assault inside Cassette Nine on Vulcan Lane at 3.20am last Thursday.

The attack follows a string of similar incidents across the Tasman, provoking a public outcry there, and comes in the wake of a fatal king-hit attack in downtown Auckland last November.

Cassette Nine general manager Ruairi Hatrick said last week's attack came without warning.

"You could not have seen anything like this coming. It was fairly quiet in the club just past 3am, and we were about to close.

"The victim was talking to a friend and out of nowhere another man took two steps forward and threw a punch, knocking the victim to the floor.

"This was completely unprovoked. No reason whatsoever," Mr Hatrick said.

The alleged assailant was not a regular at Cassette and was not known to staff.

"We have had nothing like this happen before."

Mr Pant's condition has improved and he is now stable in Auckland City Hospital.

He graduated from the Cornell Institute of Business and Technology - which caters for international students - last year.

The principal described him as a good student.

"We are saddened by the news that he has been assaulted, " Associate Professor Paul Sutcliffe said.

Napier man Mathew Paul Papa, 22, appeared in court last week charged with intent to cause grievous bodily harm over the incident.

His name suppression lapsed on Monday.

The assault followed the death of 25-year-old trainee primary school teacher Tarun Asthana last November. He suffered a serious head injury when felled by a single punch at Britomart.

Naval rating Grenville McFarland, 27, has been charged with his manslaughter.

More recently, New Zealander Alex McEwen, 19, was king-hit outside a McDonald's restaurant in Sydney last month. He suffered head and spinal injuries in the attack.

His assault was one of a raft of serious and fatal assaults, including the death of teenager Daniel Christie, which resulted in 'one punch' laws being beefed up across Australia.

New South Wales is introducing mandatory jail sentences of at least eight years for the deadly one-punch assaults.

Mr Pant's assault prompted Auckland police to say at the time: "Once again, as if any further proof was needed, this event shows nothing good happens in the city after 3am".

But the Hospitality Association's Auckland branch president Kevin Schwass said last week the assault should not put people off going into the city.

"The fact an assault happened on premise, you can't say that the city is dangerous. On the contrary."

Auckland is gearing up for one of its biggest weekends since the 2011 Rugby World Cup and organisers say they will not tolerate any booze-fuelled bad behaviour.

The city will be full of visitors from around the country and overseas as Auckland hosts the NRL Auckland Nines, rapper Eminem's concert and the annual Lantern Festival this weekend.

Nines organisers have indicated they will take a hard line on excessive alcohol consumption.

Alcohol sales won't begin until midday at the tournament, beer and RTDs will have a maximum alcohol content of 4 per cent and there will be a limit of four serves per person, decreasing to two per person after 2.30pm.

The Wellington Sevens came under fire from police at the weekend for the amount of alcohol that was available at Westpac Stadium, which saw 20 people arrested and 300 evicted from the stadium over the two-day event.

King hit victims:

* December 2013: British professional cyclist Matt Cronshaw suffered a broken eye socket after an unprovoked late-night assault where a stranger took exception to his T-shirt.

* November 2013: Tarun Asthana died after he hit his head when felled by a single punch in central Auckland.

* June 2011: Auckland man Trevor Kaukau received serious brain injuries when he was hit once, fell backwards and struck his head on Karangahape Rd.

* August 2011: Hutt Valley man Felipo Sipaia died after he was punched in the head during a confrontation. He fell, hit his head and never regained consciousness.

* October 2011: Billy Dawson, 34, died in hospital from severe head injuries after being punched once in the face outside a bar in Auckland's Viaduct Harbour. Kit Murray was later sentenced to five years' jail for manslaughter.

- Brendan Manning of APNZ

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