An assault on a Nelson police officer that left him needing 40 stitches and dental reconstruction surgery has shocked those at the top of New Zealand's police force.
The Nelson officer and a colleague had witnessed a man assaulting a woman near the corner of Waimea Rd and Franklyn St about 2.45pm yesterday.
The officer was attacked when he went to intervene.
The offender then tried to attack the second officer, but fled after being pepper-sprayed.
The first officer suffered three fractures to his jaw and received 40 stitches to his face. He would also need dental reconstruction, police said.
The injured officer was now recovering at home and was expected to be off work for about two weeks.
Nelson Bays area commander Inspector Steve Greally said the attack had shocked police.
"I'm in no doubt that the wider Nelson community will be disgusted by this attack. It is completely unacceptable for an officer who is performing his duty in protecting the community is subject to this sort of behaviour."
Greally said both Police Commissioner Peter Marshall and Police Minister Anne Tolley had also expressed their concern over the attack to him.
A 23-year-old Nelson man will appearing in the Nelson District Court today charged with aggravated wounding.
Anyone with information should contact Nelson CIB staff on 03 546 3840.