9 Nov 2018

Auckland mall incident: Forty minutes of negotiations to free hostage

2:00 pm on 9 November 2018

Police spent almost 40 minutes negotiating with a man who held a knife to the throat of a woman he did not know in a mall in south Auckland this morning.

Police spent almost 40 minutes negotiating with a man who held a knife to the throat of a woman he did not know in a mall in South Auckland this morning.

Police spent almost 40 minutes negotiating with a man who held a knife to the throat of a woman he did not know in a mall in South Auckland this morning. Photo: Supplied to RNZ

Police were called just before 9am this morning, after the man took the woman hostage in the foodcourt at Westfield Manukau City.

Counties Manukau Central Area Commander Inspector Adam Pyne said officers were at the mall within a matter of minutes.

The mall was evacuated and a cordon was put in place.

Mr Pyne said the first officer at the scene began negotiations. It was 40 minutes before he dropped the knife and released the woman.

The 30-year-old man was arrested and has been charged with kidnapping.

He will appear in court tomorrow.

Mr Pyne said the man and the 34-year-old victim - who was visiting from Christchurch - were unknown to each other.

The woman was at the mall with her teenage daughter.

Mr Pyne commended the woman for her bravery and for remaining calm in the situation.

He said the victim was understandably shaken, but fortunately was not harmed by the offender.

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People waiting outside the mall after being evacuated. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

"I want to acknowledge the bravery of the victim in this incident, who remained calm in a stressful and traumatic situation and we are providing her with all the support we can," Mr Pyne said.

"I also want to acknowledge the actions of the police staff involved in this incident, who managed to successfully defuse a volatile situation without anyone being harmed.

"We would also like to recognise the actions of mall security staff who managed to quickly evacuate members of the public from the area."

Witnesses at the time posted to social media saying that the man was holding a knife to her throat.

A worker at one of the stores in the mall told RNZ that hundreds of people evacuated the building.

One person tweeted that the woman was being held hostage near the food court.

She said she walked into the mall with her brother and saw a crowd running out and cops running in.