Gangs, patches, and one law for all

Fifty years of Government appeasement of gangs, especially Maori, came to the summit of Te Mata Peak near Hastings last Saturday when the Mongrel Mob in full regalia held a ritual as the public were excluded and the police did traffic duty. Gang members were heard barking like dogs and shouting “sieg f***ing heil”.

Hastings councillor Damon Harvey said that the disruption by the Mongrel Mob “was unacceptable”.

Police said the road was only closed to cars that were turned around for safety concerns.

Police also said that they were “taking this matter seriously and will be meeting with council, iwi and the Te Mata Trust to discuss Saturday's event and the appropriate planning and response around any future events of a similar nature”

Mongrel Mob spokesman Rex Timu, who played the race card when he said that “Rongokako [Te Mata Peak] is our ancestor”, said that the ceremony had to be held on a Saturday afternoon because many of their members had to work “night shift”.

His “peak ancestor” assertion also featured in last year’s wrangle over iwi sensibilities being hurt when Craggy Range winery cut a walking track on their land up the eastern slope of the peak.

Appeasement of gangs, a policy of making concessions to avoid conflict, has been going on in New Zealand at least since 1975, when Prime Minister Robert Muldoon engaged gangs in government-subsidised work schemes to keep people from a life of crime.

Despite the work schemes, the gangs have grown exponentially and now the Mongrel Mob, a Maori gang, has four chapters in Hastings, which is unprecedented in New Zealand for a city of 80,000.

The reason for a big Mob population there is because Corrections sends most Mobsters to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison. That brings their families to Hastings, which is also where inmates stay upon release.

The one-law-for-all approach would be to extend the Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Act 2013, which involves a $2000 fine and destruction of insignia, to all public places, targeting all gangs -- Black Power, White Power, Mongrel Mob, Tribesmen, Head Hunters, Hell’s Angels, Comancheros, and so on.

Then the police would have been able to do more than traffic duty when the Mongrel Mob excluded the public from Te Mata Peak last week.

Are gangs a special minority group. See

Why another $98m race-based prison programme?

A new $98 million Maori Pathways programme, announced on Friday, is the Government’s latest effort to lower the rates of Maori incarceration and recidivism.

The justification is that Maori, who make up just 15 percent of the general population, make up more than 50 percent of the prison population, and 62 percent of the high security prison population.

Maori Pathways is for Maori men under 30 and involves immersing inmates in Maori culture and involving their families through their incarceration and release.

It will be rolled out initially at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison and Northland Region Corrections Facility

The programme is yet another “for Maori” prison programme of which around 20 have existed since 1995. That Maori offending remains a hot issue implies such programmes lack effectiveness.

The programme assumes that the offender’s family is a positive influence but in many cases the family influence is negative.

We have already suggested that the apparently large number of Maori offenders would shrink substantially if a definition of being Maori required ancestry of at least 50 percent Maori.

Our view is that since prisons are full of offenders, any programme to reduce offending should be for all offenders, not just those of a certain race.


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