Gang violence not welcome in Huntly, as locals speak out

By Taroi Black

The terrifying scenes of a gang brawl in Huntly have spurred locals to stand up against violence. The fight involved members of the Mongrel Mob and Black Power.

Local resident Lionel Wairau says, "We don't have gangs walking around and creating trouble in our town."

A witness to the incident described the event as terrifying and claims there were at least 50 gang members from both sides fighting next to the local liquor store and supermarket. He says the members of the Black Power gang were attending a tangihanga before members of the Mongrel Mob intervened. 

Police have confirmed no one was injured.

Local kaumātua Tommy Moana says the gang members are not known to locals. "They aren't from here but it's not to say we don't have gangs in Huntly."

The National Party says it intends cracking down on gangs under policy to be released in 2020 in the lead up to the election. This comes as new figures released by Police Minister Stuart Nash show an almost 1400 increase in gang members since October 2017.

Party leader Simon Bridges says, "[The] Mongrel Mob they've been increasingly vocal in places like the Hawke's Bay, where it's a women's chapter setting up in Waikato, we are seeing more of this.

"We will release our gang plan in 2020 which will crack down hard on the gangs and what I mean by that, and we'll put detail around this obviously next year in election year, but ultimately giving the police the resources, the powers, the tools they need to deal with gangs decisively."

The Government already has plans in place to introduce new police officers in 2020 specifically targeting organised crime and has pointed to 1200 offenders having been sent from Australia to New Zealand during the period in which gang numbers have increased.

Maxine Moana Tūwhāngai, who is running for the local Waikato District Council, firmly believes local government should step up. Her plan for her hometown of Huntly is to give rangatahi a voice. 

"To continue to have gangs, you're going to have to have a pipeline of new recruits or prospects to the gangs. But council can help with that too by providing activities that help to strengthen the youth in the town," Mrs Moana-Tūwhāngai says.

"People want to feel they live in a society that is safe so I guess that's where the concern comes from."

Police have assured the public that they have increased their presence in Huntly and continue to make enquiries.