Speculation on social media has led to accusations some gangs have been flouting lockdown protocols, and that this caused Covid to jump the border and spread outside of Auckland.
Don Brash is the treasurer of an education initiative started by the Mongrel Mob Kingdom, led by Sonny Fatupaito, of Hamilton, and he says a lot of what is being said about the Mongrel Mob are baseless.
“We are told that gangs are responsible for spreading this virus. If that's true, the government should confirm it.”
"If there is evidence - let's see it,” he said. “Otherwise, it's scaremongering and not helpful at all."
"They've got no involvement with that at all."
Mongrel Mob leaders Harry Tam and Sonny Fatupaito were granted border exemptions to help with vaccinations for gang members. On Newshub's The Nation, Winston Peters accused Harry Tam of crossing the northern border with a woman who later contracted Covid.
Seminar for Waikato Mob
"This person came here with a gang member assigned the social worker status and falsified why she was coming."
Tam told Te Ao Mārama that that was a total lie and now wants Peters to apologise.
On Saturday the Mongrel Mob Kingdom will be running a workshop and pop-up vaccination clinic in Hopuhopu. The workshop includes indigenous health experts Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen, of Te Ropu Whakakaupapa Uruta (National Māori Pandemic Group) and Associate Professor Collin Tukuitonga, from the public health department at the University of Auckland.
Paula Ormsby, a spokeswoman for the kingdom is glad that experts have agreed to come to educate members on the facts around Covid, "There is no such thing as a hard-to-reach community; it just depends on whose reaching for them, and that is exactly what they've done, and they have had successes around that"
It will give members and whanau accurate and relevant information to protect them from Covid-19, and the opportunity to question the experts, particularly around social media vaccine content.
Brash says," I think what they need to hear is that vaccination is very important indeed, and my understanding is that the Mongrel Mob Kingdom is making that very clear indeed to their members, and that is very helpful."