Ditch 501 Deportees - Māori Authority Chair

By Will Trafford

The Chair of the National Māori Authority is calling on the government to reject aircraft carrying Australia’s 501 deportees across the ditch as Aotearoa battles increasing gun violence.

“there is now only one solution left – turn the planes around and make a point to the Australian Government that New Zealand is not the dumping ground for your criminals.” Authority Chair Matthew Tukaki said Monday.

Two people have died in separate shootings in Tāmaki in under a week. One in Flat Bush on Boxing Day morning another in Mt Roskill on Thursday.

501 deportees have been the largest point of contention between the Australian and New Zealand governments for several years.

People need only be born in Aotearoa to be deported, the NZ government and many of the 501 deportees complain they have never even lived in Aoteraroa. Tukaki says that raises the likelihood of deportees engaging in criminal activity.

“The truth is these violent thugs and criminals don’t care two hoots about the community, they don’t care about culture or tikanga they care solely about establishing their criminal enterprise – they have no or little attachment to New Zealand and many of them, while they may have been born here, have been raised in Australia – they are products of the Australian environment – and through that environment they have connections, they have links and they have supply chains” Tukaki said

Gang membership in Aotearoa has climbed almost 50 percent under the Labour government from 5343 in 2017 to 8003 this year. National has blamed the government, but Tukaki says neither party’s to blame.

“If you blame the New Zealand Government for this, no matter if they have been National or Labour, you are on the wrong side of the page” Tukaki says.

Gangland turf wars between returnees and established gangs is a leading cause of the surge in gun violence according to Tukaki who previously worked as Chair of Suicide Presentation Australia and the United Nations Global Compact's Australian Representative while in Australia.

“Lets be really clear here – there have been concerns for the last several years that new gangs and chapters are getting a foothold in New Zealand… To be frank we saw it as far back as Waikeria [2020 riots] and we are seeing now with an increase in gun related violence in Auckland.”

“We can potentially expect to see tension between these newly established gangs and existing ones that could see an ever greater increase in gun violence in Auckland – we could see gang land wars similar to those that occurred in both Sydney and Melbourne in the early 2000’s if we are not careful” Tukaki said.

Tukaki cited the 2001 ‘Tampa Affair’ where Australia refused entry of a freighter carrying 433 refugees into Australian waters as an example for Aotearoa to follow. ‘Australia should be used to that given what they did with the Tampa all those years ago. Turn the planes around’ Tukaki said.

Acknowledging such a change in government policy was doubtful, Tukaki said rather than increased focus on wraparound services for returnees, more support should be given to police to keep public safe.

“Reality is when these people come back to New Zealand, some but not all, don’t give two hoots about the benefit or wrap around support. you can make twenty, thirty times that amount in a single drop through criminal activity.”

“Police need the extra resources to increase their surveillance and intelligence… while our border controls have been about keeping Delta out we need to increase resources and invest more to stop criminal enterprise coming” Tukaki says.