Violent start to new year

It's been a brutal start to 2013, with a homicide investigation launched in Auckland just hours into the new year, and another man fighting for his life after being stabbed at Waihi Beach.

Another three people have been left seriously injured following beatings in Mount Maunganui, Nelson and Kawerau.

Auckland police yesterday launched a homicide investigation after Papatoetoe resident Nathan Albert, 27, was found dead in Panmure's Pilkington Road shortly after 4am.

A postmortem examination concluded he died a violent death, Detective Inspector Mark Benefield said.

Police this evening said a man known to Mr Albert had contacted police, and he was assisting them with the investigation.

"It is too early to say what the outcome of the discussions with this man will be," Mr Benefield said.

A 64-year-old man is in a critical condition in Waikato Hospital's intensive care unit, supported by his wife and family who have come over from their homes in Queensland, after he was stabbed outside his caravan in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The New Zealander, who lives in Australia, was stabbed twice - in the head and neck - after he went to check a noise outside the caravan he and his partner were staying in at Waihi Beach.

The offender fled the scene when neighbours heard a disturbance.

Waihi police are asking for New Year's Eve revellers to supply their festive photographs, in the hope police can identify the assailant.

Police set up checkpoints at the exits of Waihi today to talk to holidaymakers as they left the area.

"But this proved to cause too much congestion and we apologise for any inconvenience caused," Inspector Dana McDonald said.

Instead, police were now appealing to people who might have taken photographs in the area after midnight.

Police believed dozens of photos might have been taken.

"People often take snaps of New Year's Eve revellers and then think nothing more of them. What we're after is images of people in and around Beach, Hinemoa and Ocean View Roads, the surf club, camping ground and Esplanade between 12.30am and 1.30am," Mr McDonald said.

The weapon used in the attack, which is believed to be a knife, has not been found.

Waihi Beach's normal population is about 3000 but swelled to about 16,000 over the festive period.

At another popular holiday spot on New Year's Eve, a man was assaulted in Mount Maunganui just before the midnight countdown began.

Police have not been able to find the victim, who was last seen staggering through crowds on Marine Parade about 11.30pm.

He was heavily bleeding and might have lost a couple of teeth after another man stomped in his head numerous times, Detective Kevin Shields said.

The alleged offender ran across the road as police approached, but was soon found and arrested.

In Nelson, a 62-year old woman was bashed and sexually assaulted yesterday as she worked alone in a community garden. Police are hunting the "cowardly" attacker and urged locals in the Victory area of Nelson to take safety precautions until he was in custody.

The woman was working alone in a shade house at the Victory community gardens about 2.30pm when the "vicious" attack took place by a man believed to be aged in his 20s.

She remained in hospital with substantial head and facial injuries, along with other lacerations and bruising to her body. Her injuries were not life-threatening.

On Saturday, a 71-year-old woman was brutally bashed in her Kawerau home.

She suffered a broken left cheek and a suspected broken nose after being bashed by an intruder about 1am.

She was at home and opened the door expecting to see a family member arriving late from overseas.

However, it was instead a man who demanded cash.

He attacked the woman, leaving her covered in blood on the floor of her home, before stealing her car.

Police were yet to make any arrests in the case.


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