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Minister Wades In To Break Up Teen Fight

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Paula Bennett
Paula Bennett

Wellington, Jan 20 NZPA - Social Development Minister Paula Bennett "went into mum mode" and physically broke up a fight when she waded into a maul of about 30 young people outside a shopping mall on Saturday.

She was about to enter West City in Henderson about 4.30pm when she saw 30 or so youngsters aged from about 11 to 17 in Catherine Place.

Four or five of them, mostly females, were fighting -- "fists flying, blood, it was full on" -- while the rest were egging them on, she told The New Zealand Herald.

When one fight ended, another would begin, and others would join in.

Travel consultant Eunice Matanibukaca said the girls were swearing and yelling and "fighting, punching each other" when Ms Bennett waded in.

"I saw Paula coming. I could just see in her face that she wanted to get to them. She just looked so angry, like she wanted all the kids to go -- she just went into mum mode."

Ms Matanibukaca said Ms Bennett headed straight toward the girls and physically forced them apart, before telling the crowd to move along.

Ms Bennett told the newspaper "it was all starting to get really, really aggressive".

"It was pretty intense. They were going for each other and it was going to brew into what I thought would be a lot of young people involved. Someone was going to get hurt. So I was fiery -- there's no two ways about it."

One retailer had locked their shop, protecting the elderly people inside.

Ms Bennett said none of the fighters hit her, but she got called some juicy names. "It was language I wouldn't use -- and I'm a Westie."

Ms Bennett said she intended to work with the Waitakere City Council, police and her ministry to try to address the issue. Mayor Bob Harvey applauded Ms Bennett's action.

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