Rival gang brawl rocks Tokoroa Courthouse
Tensions between rival gangs boiled over into a courthouse brawl so violent that staff had to lock themselves in a back room.
The fight, which involved at least five people, shook the walls of the Tokoroa Courthouse on Tuesday.
Four South Waikato men between the ages of 17 and 48 have been arrested over the incident, which broke out at 12.30pm, Bay of Plenty Police Senior Sergeant Karl Konlechner said.
They have been charged with a range of offences, from disorderly behaviour to possession of an offensive weapon, he said.
"It was between a young guy that was appearing in court on other charges, with some gang affiliations, and his father, versus some associates from a rival gang.
"That became physical in the foyer of the court. Police were called and four people were arrested."
Lawyer Maryanne Crapp told RNZ that a court registrar locked the courtroom door to stop anyone in the public gallery from leaving.
Banging, shouting and swearing could be heard through the door.
Other court staff were so frightened, they locked themselves in the exit room at the back of the court, Public Service Association spokeswoman Tracy Klenner told Radio NZ.
"The violence was of such a nature that there were people getting thrown about and it was enough to make the walls move about in the courts," the union rep for court personnel said.
Police confirmed to RNZ in a statement that no officers were at the courthouse at the time, but they did respond quickly from the nearby station.