Savagely-beaten taxi driver fears what new, looser safety laws will mean

Warning: This video contains audio which may disturb some people.

A taxi driver who was savagely attacked early on Tuesday morning is terrified what will happen if the Government goes through with its plan to loosen health and safety rules.

The proposed law means taxis won't have to have security cameras or duress alarms - Vineet Mahajan fears it could cost lives.

Three boys jumped into his taxi at around midnight on Tuesday, while he was in Manuwera.

When he asked them to show him they had money for the fare, as he usually does at that time of night, they turned on him.

"I asked them to get out of my taxi or I'd have to call the cops," he told Newshub.

"As soon as I mentioned the cops, they started beating me up."

Two of the teens were in the back and one in the front seat, before one came out of the taxi and, opening the driver's door, began kicking him from the side.

The car was still at the taxi rank at the time.

During the assault, Mr Mahajan said the trio demanded he handed over his phone and wallet. But they were in his pocket and he couldn't reach them.

"I said, 'I'll give you whatever I have, take it. Just leave me'," he said. They didn't.

Terrified, Mr Mahajan pushed the duress alarm. It immediately began broadcasting the assault to the taxi company's head office.

The audio of the attack is haunting. A scuffle can be heard, with thumps - kicks and punches, blows being landed on Mr Mahajan's face and body - clearly audible.

In a panic, he begins blaring the horn.

While in the audio the attackers can be heard cursing and yelling racial abuse, Mr Mahajan can't remember what they were saying at the time.

"When you're being beaten up on three sides you can't hear anything. I was screaming. Screaming a lot."

When a car drove past, with two people in it, the assault began letting up. Mr Mahajan took his chance and floored it.

"I just drove. One guy was outside, he just fell down. I was holding his leg - when he kicked me I just held it - and when I drove he just fell and I just left it."

The other two attackers jumped out of the taxi as he drove towards the RSA, to meet up with police. The two witnesses who had been driving past offered to stay with him until officers arrived.

Mr Mahajan says it's not the first time he's been attacked in his taxi - but it's definitely the worst. He's scared to get back in the vehicle but says it's something he has to do.

When he lived in India, he was a trained social worker. But when he moved to New Zealand the qualifications didn't transfer across, so he's spent the past four years as a taxi driver.

"Even the local people, they're scared of walking or driving taxis at night in the area where I'm driving," he said.

When he pushed the duress alarm, the audio was sent live to those at the taxi company's base. Operators began tracking his car and called police to help them.

If the new legislation gets through, duress alarms and security cameras won't be required in all taxis anymore. The New Zealand Taxi Federation says that could cost lives.

"It was only after two murders within a short space of time that they decided security cameras and duress alarms were necessary. Now they're saying, 'We don't think they are'," executive director John Hart told Newshub.

He says the legislation has been written to suit Uber, which operates on the model that almost anyone can be a driver.

Current health and safety rules made that difficult, with the duress alarms and security cameras a requirement for taxis.

But the new laws, which are currently awaiting their second reading in Parliament, could change that.

Taxis which have another way of identifying the driver and passenger, such as with the Uber app, will no longer require duress alarms, with security cameras able to be removed with exceptions.

In a statement, police say they are currently in the process of gathering CCTV footage and making enquiries, and are appealing for information from the public to find the attackers.