A community patrol volunteer for Auckland’s western suburbs of New Lynn and Kelston says there are several “ring leaders” behind recent assaults involving students in the New Lynn town centre area, and that the youngest is nine years old.

The volunteer, who does not want to be named due to a health and safety policy of the patrol group, told RNZ incidents had been escalating since the school holiday period, and the last time New Lynn has seen a spate of assaults at this level was pre-Covid-19.

The police were aware of the four ring leaders and had spoken to them, the volunteer said.

She said she understood that the youngest was nine years old, and the three others were in their early teens.

RNZ has approached police for comment.

The volunteers said she believed that the assaults were motivated by the young people’s desire to show off on social media.

She also observed that some students were targeted by the offenders for their designer shoes, clothes and phones. Many of the incidents had centred around the transport hub and the main town centre adjacent to that, she said.

Hayley Courtney from union representing bus drivers says violence on public transport has reached “crisis” levels.

Last Friday, schools warned students to avoid the New Lynn transport hub over fears of a planned mass brawl between students.

This week, police are investigating another assault in New Lynn on Monday afternoon — one of a series of youth violence incidents around the transport hub in recent weeks.

Police said the incident was reported around 1.30pm and those involved had left the area on foot.

Meanwhile, videos have also been circulating on social media, showing a group of teenagers kicking a young person at the New Lynn McDonald’s, and another video showed a group of teens assaulting a person in Green Bay.

A McDonald’s spokesperson said it was aware of the video, and the restaurant was in ongoing talks with the New Lynn Business Association and the police to address the ongoing problem.

After the success at Whangaparāoa College, police are now looking to increase their presence at another local secondary school.

Police said they were aware of the recent incidents in New Lynn and Green Bay, and that the videos were of a “concerning nature”.

There was increased police and security presence in New Lynn last week, including around the transport hub, they said.

Police said they would continue to have a visible presence in the area, especially before and after the school day.

Meanwhile, Auckland Transport said it had deployed a Western Line roaming officer for every day of the week.

The officer moved to the New Lynn station after 4.30pm every day, and stayed there until late night, AT said.

AT said it had been meeting regularly with police and local elected members to discuss measure to tackle the current safety concerns.