Northland police are lauding the Good Samaritans who intervened in a "brutal and cowardly" attack outside a McDonald's in Kerikeri.
Just after midnight on Saturday the victim was pursued to the McDonald's by two offenders, who punched and kicked him unconscious.
But while he was lying helpless on the ground, the public stepped in and put themselves in harm's way.
On the Northland Police Facebook page, Detective Senior Sergeant Rhys Johnston said officers were "really impressive" at their bravery.
"This included a very slight looking young lady who steps out of the restaurant and right into the path of the offenders to protect the victim, who by that stage was lying unconscious on the ground," he wrote.
"Several other people, including McDonald's staff, got involved and prevented any further attack."
When the attackers realised they were outnumbered, they fled. Without the public's aid, the victim could have suffered far worse injuries.
"It appeared that the offenders got a bit of a fright when they realised just how many people were there and willing to stop them. They took off pretty quick," Det Snr Sgt Johnston says.
"As it was the victim suffered a broken jaw and cracked vertebrae, it could have been much worse without the intervention of these good people."
The attack was captured on McDonald's CCTV footage, which police used to swiftly identify the suspects.
Two Kerikeri locals - aged 16 and 19 years - have been arrested and charged with Wounding with Intent to Cause Grievous Bodily Harm.
Police would like to speak to the young woman who helped save the victim, and any other witnesses