Mon, Nov 13, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Community disappointed after mass arrests

Reuters, AUCKLAND

Pasifika community leaders have expressed their disappointment at the behavior of fans after 53 people were arrested in Auckland for disorder offenses following Tonga’s upset victory over New Zealand in the Rugby League World Cup on Saturday.

The Tongans became the first Tier 2 nation to beat a Tier 1 team when they stormed back from a 16-2 halftime deficit to win the game 28-22.

The victory touched off raucous celebrations in south Auckland, with police having to make 53 arrests as revelers threw missiles, blocked roads, set off fireworks near a gas station and stopped an ambulance from getting to a medical emergency.

“The violence ... it is just shocking. It is disgusting,” Auckland Councilor Alf Filipaina told Radio New Zealand yesterday.

“These people don’t care about the rugby league. They just want to end up trying to look for fights,” Filipaina added.

Filipaina and fellow Councilor Fa’anana Efeso Collins have previously spoken out about behavioral concerns amongst a minority of members of the Pasifika community in Auckland.

Tongan and Samoan fans clashed ahead of their game last week in Hamilton and police had issued warnings they would not tolerate any further outbreaks of disorder.

The Tonga match against the tournament cohosts largely went off without any issues and police were happy with the behavior of the crowd, Waikato District Commander Superintendent Bruce Bird said.

There had been just six arrests, including two pitch invasions, and 33 people evicted for a range of issues such as disorderly conduct and bringing in contraband, police said.

However, disorder erupted later, as people flooded onto the streets of Otahuhu, a predominantly Pasifika-populated area.

“As family groups, revelers and other sports fans moved away and headed home, a hard core of people occupied the streets,” police spokesman Senior Sergeant Clive Wood said in a statement yesterday.

“These people, who appeared to have no care for anyone’s welfare, didn’t think about the consequences of their actions and I do hope they take time out to reflect on how badly they behaved,” Wood added.

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