Tongan flag-burner apologises for 'drunken mistake'

The unidentified man who incited anger after a video showed him laughing while burning a Tongan flag has apologised to the public, calling in a "drunken mistake".

The footage shows the young male holding up the flag and torching it with a lighter. He apparently showed off his actions by sharing it on Snapchat. The Tongan team beat the Kiwis 28-22 at the Rugby League World Cup on Saturday.

The video was put on Facebook on late on Saturday night, and the culprit has been identified as a Hamilton man. His alleged name and photos have already been shared, and he is now receiving death threats on social media, with the hashtag #deadmanwalking from upset Tongans.

"Dead man walking and don't cry when they come for you boy," one person said.

On Tuesday the man's apology was printed by NZME.

"To the people of New Zealand and Tonga, I sincerely apologise for my actions that took place regarding the video posted on social media on Saturday 11/11/17," he said.

"In no way did I intend for this to take place, as it was a drunken mistake that has great remorse by myself and those involved.

"I apologise for the way this has offended everyone especially the people of Tonga, and there is no excuse for the actions that I have taken.

"I was unaware that this moment had been recorded and had no ill intentions, following this I have since tried to have this removed off the pages that it has been posted on, and hope this public apology will help with doing so."

It's not the first time a flag-burning has stirred up tensions. It follows weeks of violence as Tongans and Samoans squared off in violent street battles after a young man burnt a Samoan flag.

At the peak, an estimated 150-200 people gathered at the Otara Mall carpark carrying poles, sticks and even a machete. Six people were arrested for disorderly behaviour and possession of offensive weapons.

Other videos showed an ugly street punch-up in south Auckland, where a gang of yelling and screaming Samoan supporters surrounded a vehicle, while someone was attacked.

There are fears the new video will lead to violent retaliation against the flag burner.