Whangamatā riot: Cop kicks youth in the back as riot officers descend on unruly mass

Police are defending their use of force to dispel hundreds of rioting drunk teens in Whangamatā after video emerged of an officer kicking a young person in the back.

It follows a night of violence in the New Year’s Eve holiday hotspot which resulted in 23 arrests and left young women with gashes from thrown bottles.

As police clad in riot gear advance on the mass, the new video shows one officer kicking a young person sitting on a fencepost in the lower back.

The person is sent sprawling forwards to the ground.

Police said that while the video was not nice to watch, troublemakers had ample warning to move on and they are standing by the officer’s actions.

Last night, at least a dozen young people mounted the roof of Blackies Cafe wreaking havoc, with some hurtling glass bottles at the police officers below.

Thousands of dollars worth of stock was stolen and there are fears the roof is so badly damaged it will have to be replaced.

Twenty-three people have now been arrested across Whangamatā as a result of the incident and other hotspots of disorder in the Coromandel town.

The latest arrest was a 54-year-old local man accused of inciting disorderly behaviour in relation to a livestream on social media.

Eastern Waikato Area Commander Inspector Dean Anderson has reviewed the footage of the kick and remains comfortable with the measures police used.

He told the Herald that while not desirable, force was sometimes needed under the circumstances.

The short clip did not look nice but failed to depict all the context, he said.

“Odds are it would be very, very difficult to say they did not know what was coming.”

Red and blue police lights were flashing while a warning was given about six times, he said.

“That was one individual that sat there obviously in defiance of police instructions.

“There is no question in my mind. I was there. The loudhailer was used repeatedly.”

The instructions were clear, he said, that if they did not move they would be forcefully removed.

The reason police acted to clear the space was that a number of young girls had been carried out with nasty head lacerations that were bleeding quite heavily, he said.

“That was it for us. Plus the damage to the property. They had gone too far.

“Time to move them on.”

There were a few thousand people congregating in the area, Anderson said, while inside the park just over 15 police officers were dealing with an unruly horde.

Most police officers were struck with bottles leaving bruising about the legs but serious injury was avoided through sheer luck, he said.

The number of bottles thrown at police was “substantial”.

Anderson said the number of teenagers confidently and openly carrying alcohol within the liquor ban area was disappointing.

However, quite a few young people apologised to police and thanked them for intervening, he said.

“Obviously there was a smaller group who were antagonistic and certainly disorderly, violent and intent on destroying property.”

There was a lot of video material available online and police would be reviewing the footage to identify those responsible for the damage, he said.

Police were disappointed for the Whangamatā community.

“Unfortunately, when we are required to intervene we will.”

Thames Coromandel Mayor Sandra Goudie told Newstalk ZB the young people involved were nothing but “self-indulgent brats” who had been drinking at home and emerged to cause trouble later when they were “bored”.

Goudie said it is was possible an event for teenagers in future may prevent similar behaviour.

“That is a good way to go, I think, because it does give them something to focus on so they can put their energy into dancing and just cruising around with their peers …

“However, this is at odds with some of the locals where they don’t want those sorts of activities there.”

It became a judgment call and part of that was that they did not want to have anything that could incite violent or aggressive behaviour from these young people, she said

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