Days after the party Dr Don Brash once led criticised Green Party MPs for speaking at a Mongrel Mob event, Te Ao Mārama can reveal he is involved in a new education trust, set up by the Mongrel Mob Kingdom.
The Mongrel Mob Kingdom-led Ngaa Whaanau o Maangaru Education and Research Centre was registered as a charitable trust in October 2020, with Brash a trustee. One of the purposes of the initiative is to “facilitate whānau into pathways of learning at all levels”.
And Brash, these days mostly known for his involvement in the controversial Hobson's Pledge group, admits it is a rather unexpected combination. "Total surprise I must say, I've never had any previous dealings with the Mongrel Mob Kingdom but I was flattered to be asked."
Brash's appointment comes days after Green MP's Marama Davidson and Dr Elizabeth Kerekere spoke at a conference at the Mongrel Mob Kingdom's Hamilton chapter, which has drawn criticism from National's Simeon Brown and ACT leader David Seymour. Brown told Te Ao Marama yesterday that until the Mongrel Mob give back their guns and "stop peddling meth" that no MPs should be engaging with them.
However, the former National leader's perspective differs.
Spirit of unity
Brown says, "Look the Mongrel Mob in the Waikato are very good at PR but, until they hand back the guns and stop selling meth and causing misery on our streets, I don't give them any credibility. Cuddling up to gang members by going to a gang pad is essentially endorsing what they do."
But Paula Ormsby of the Mongrel Mob Kingdom says the meeting was about coming together in the spirit of unity.
"The hui was empowering. It was one of the most empowering spaces that anybody could have possibly sat in. It was about humanising us."
Dr Brash's doctorate was in economics, and he has held adjunct professorships at universities in New Zealand and Australia. The trust aims to provide education and training under the umbrella of an existing provider, with the goal of becoming a private training establishment (PTE) In its own right.
All Kiwis equal access
Brash has hit out at claims that the government should not engage with gangs.
"I think working with gangs is absolutely consistent with my long-term position, I want all New Zealanders no matter their status in life, no matter what their ethnicity to have equal access to education."
Only a select few groups and companies can say they have a former governor of the Reserve Bank on their board, and the Kingdom leaders say they are seeing the benefits of his expertise. They can also see his "heart of gold."
Mongrel Mob Kingdom president Sonny Fatupaito says, "When I first heard about it, when I heard that he was willing to sit down and have a kōrero with us about it, about some of our visions and dreams and aspirations, especially around education, I've always got an open mind."
And Ormsby says, "I'm an activist, so I had a very clear view about what I thought about Don Brash until we actually sat with this man. He really is just one of our uncles."