COVID-19: Footage of tussle at Auckland supermarket goes viral as panic-buying returns with a vengeance

Panic-buying has returned with a vengeance after New Zealand's first community case in 169 days was announced on Tuesday - and it didn't take long for frenzied Aucklanders to fight for the basics as supermarkets were overwhelmed across the Super City.

Following the news that a person had tested positive for the virus in Auckland - with no clear link to the border - supermarkets were flooded with distressed shoppers bracing themselves for an inevitable return to lockdown

Footage of a tussle at one Auckland supermarket has already surfaced on social media, appearing to show multiple people fighting at the Pak'nSave in Clendon Park, Manurewa.

"How exciting REWA," the clip is captioned. "Toilet paper drama begins awooooiiiiii #PanicShopping."

A number of people have expressed hilarity at the shocking footage, with one commenting: "Oh my god, hilarious."

"Over a chicken," said another. "Mate there's plenty."

"Toilet paper must be very popular in 'Rewa," another joked.

It's unclear if the tussle was prompted by a product - however, supermarket brawls during previous lockdowns were not uncommon, with two Australian women engaging in a violent battle over a single pack of toilet paper last year.

The footage of the Pak'nSave tussle, which has amassed more than 2300 shares and 1600 likes since it was shared on Tuesday evening, serves as a stark reminder of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's rallying call to be "kind and courteous" as New Zealanders navigate this time of uncertainty.

During the press conference on Tuesday evening, the Prime Minister reiterated that there is "no need" to panic-buy products as there is enough stock for everyone.

"I know we have a natural instinct and people worry about their provisions. Just remember other people need to buy things too - be kind, be courteous. It doesn't make sense for people to rush out, it means you congregate," she said.

"[But] I have gotten used to [the fact that] nothing I say changes behaviour."

And this was evidenced by pictures taken around Auckland on Tuesday, which showed hoards of people congregating outside various supermarkets in a desperate bid to stock up on the essentials. Photos shared on social media showed empty shelves and lengthy queues snaking around car parks, entrances and aisles, with customers pushing trolleys laden with groceries.

However, photos and videos supplied to Newshub confirmed the majority of shoppers were not wearing masks, a basic public health measure. The Ministry of Health has urged all Aucklanders to wear a mask indoors where social distancing cannot be maintained. Masks and face coverings are already mandatory on public transport.

Supermarkets have since echoed the official advice, reminding Kiwis there are more than enough groceries to go around.

"We're already in the process of preparing our stores for a change in alert level protocols, and ask customers to keep calm and kind while we do this," Countdown general manager of corporate affairs Kiri Hannifin said on Tuesday.

"We know this is unnerving news for everyone, but we are well-practiced at shopping safely during alert level changes and we can do it again."

Antoinette Laird, the head of corporate affairs at Foodstuffs - which supplies New World, PAK'nSAVE and Four Square supermarkets - reiterated that their shelves are fully stocked.

"Fortunately, our North Island and South Island DCs have plenty of extra capacity and the team have been holding extra volumes of key essential items should it be required in a case like this. So, we are again asking customers to shop normal and be kind to our teams and each other.

"Our teams are preparing to move alert levels and we ask customers to be patient as we prepare to roll out the various safety precautions required to keep everyone safe."

Police have also issued a warning to Kiwis to remain calm and refrain from panic-shopping, which typically involves mass hoarding of essential products, like toilet paper.

"Police reiterate advice from our partner agencies to remain calm and that there is no need for panic-buying," a spokesperson said on Tuesday. 

Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles reiterated the advice, urging people to remember the supermarkets are open and well-stocked. 

"We have got through it every time. We know that the supermarkets stay open and stocked so there is no need to rush out," she said.

"The first thing to remember is that when we panic, we don't act in our best interest. So remember to try to stay calm and remember that we have done this before several times."

Newshub has contacted the police for comment about the Manurewa incident.