Stijgende bende aantallen in Taranaki onderdeel van nationale trendnovember 3, 2019
You probably won’t even know it but the gang landscape in Taranaki has changed from blue to red. It’s a change not everyone is happy with.
The region has long been blue, the colour of Black Power. Even wearing the Mongrel Mob’s colour red in the wrong place could result in violent attacks and intimidation. Even death.
The rivalry between the two infamously brutal gangs is nothing new, but Black Power’s historical dominance of Taranaki has long kept the Mob out of the region.
Not any more. The Mongrel Mob are here and of all places they have turned up in the middle class New Plymouth suburb of Moturoa. A suburb of million dollar views, a highly rated school and a thriving shopping centre.
Detective Sergeant Chris Allemann, a member of the tactical crime unit, says there’s always been a few Mongrel Mob members in Taranaki but about 18 months ago the subtle signs its membership was on the rise began to show.
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“When you are dealing with gang members you take notice of certain colours that they might display and there seemed to be a lot more people walking around wearing red colours.”
Gang activity is closely monitored by police both on the local level, by the Organised Crime Squad, and nationally by the Gang Intelligence Centre.
“We regularly visit gang members, we are trying to prevent things happening.
“The point is for us to get to know them and for them to get to know us.”
Having communication lines open with gangs was beneficial for police because it allowed them to sit down when trouble strikes, Allemann says.
And trouble has struck since the Mongrel Mob had established a base in Lawry St, Moturoa.
“It’s attracting the attention of the rival gangs and that’s what is causing issues.”
The mob’s age old rivalry with Black Power recently threatened to erupt into Lawry street but police were quick to clamp down.
“There was a little bit of an altercation with baseball bats and things like that,” Allemann says
“It’s not that regular because they are not that organised.”
Allemann concedes it can be frightening for members of the public to witness outbreaks of gang violence but the level of threat needed to be put into perspective.
“It’s not a huge ongoing issue where people are going to be caught up in a gang war.”
That being said, in August the Moturoa house used by the gang was raided by armed police and two illegal firearms and ammunition were seized.
The police are reluctant to let anyone know how big the gang issue really is. Not because they don’t want you to know but because they don’t want the gangs to know. Publishing numbers of gang members could spark violence between them as each tried to out recruit the other.
However in 2015 data obtained under the Official Information Act showed Taranaki was playing host to a large number of gangs.
Black Power, Magogs, Mongrel Mob, the Aotearoa Natives, Filthy Few, Greasy Dogs, Head Hunters, Hells Angels, Highway 61, Huhu MC, Nomads, Rebels, Satan’s Slaves, Tribesmen, Tyrants, Axe Throwers, Coastal Riders, Native Sons and Uru Taha all had a presence in Taranaki.
It is always difficult to get an accurate head count on gang members, Allemann says.
“Numbers change and the nature of a gang is you can never get the right numbers anyway. They are never going to tell you.”
He hoped the rise of the Mongrel Mob in Taranaki did not signal a return to days when the two gangs fought pitched battles over turf. Hostility between the two rivals has already boiled over. In March members of the Whanganui Mongrel Mob were involved in a brawl in New Plymouth’s CBD while in Taranaki for a birthday.
During the 1990s Black Power established itself as the dominant force in Taranaki, with murders, bashings and robberies common place.
The turning point came with the arrest and conviction, in 1997, of four Black Power members for killing Christopher Michael Crean, 28, the year before.
Crean had been set to give evidence against other members of the gang who attacked Mongrel Mob member Gary Stubbing with a tomahawk and slasher.
A little more than 10 years later the violence boiled over again. In November 2008 members of the Black Power stabbed Peri Niwa to death in New Plymouth.
It was a tragic mistake. Those who killed him believed he was a member of the Mongrel Mob. He wasn’t.
In August 2010 four high ranking Black Power members were sentenced to lengthy jail terms for Niwa’s horrific death.
It could have been this potential power vacuum that gave the Mongrel Mob a chance to move into what was long considered Black Power territory.
“Usually, the only way that groups can form in another group’s territory is if they’re weak because ordinarily if they’re strong they don’t let it occur,” says New Zealand’s leading gang expert Dr Jarrod Gilbert.
He says the days waging turf warfare were mostly confined the the past, but things could change.
“In this period now when we’re seeing growth and we’re seeing gangs move into territory that hasn’t traditionally been theirs, it does raise the prospects of those times returning.
“I think we’re already seeing elements of it in certain places where gangs are fighting one another so we could see a continuation of that – it’s likely, it’s logical and this is a natural consequence of when this type of growth occurs.”
For his part Allemann remains confident the modern police approach to dealing with gangs would prevent things deteriorating.
“To be honest I think that we police them better now than we did in the ’70s and ’80s. In the ’70s and ’80s they could be hostile to each other where as now if there is any sign of hostility we come down on them pretty hard,” he says.
“The last thing that we want is any overt violence and for any member of the public to be caught up in it or for the neighbours to fear for their safety.”
Although with vast amounts of money to be made in the lucrative drug trade, gang membership would always be seen as an attractive option to some and number could continue to rise, Allemann says.
“Young men, particularly, see the lifestyle of some of these gang members and they want it basically.
August: Heavily armed police assisted the Taranaki Organised Crime Squad, Tactical Crime Unit and officers from the Wellington Gang Intelligence Centre to raid the Mongrel Mob pad in Moturoa.
March: Around 20 patched Mongrel Mob arrived in Taranaki for a birthday. That weekend several were involved in a brawl in New Plymouth’s CBD in which victims were kicked a stomped while on the ground.
August: A violent clash between the two rival groups breaks out near the Cook St shops in Marfell leaves the street strewn with broken glass.
June 28: Members of the Mongrel Mob bash a man on New Plymouth’s main street using martial arts weapons. The gang also attacked members of the public who went to the victim’s aid.
February 16: A Black Power member assaulted a 63-year-old busker in a mobility scooter wearing a faded Mongrel Mob t-shirt in Waitara’s main street. The victim required medical treatment and was taken to hospital.
January 28: Seven members of the Black Power descend on a Manaia hotel and bash three members of the Rebels Motorcycle Club who had stopped for a drink while out on a ride.
December 13: Shots are fired at a Waitara house near the town’s CBD and a car is burned-out in a school’s grounds. The shooting was believed to be linked to a ram raid at the Highway 61 gang pad eight days earlier.
December 5: Highway 61 gang pad in Waitara shot up during an early evening ram raid. Two cars smashed through the wooden gates before crashing into the building inside the fortified compound.
November 19: A man arrives at Taranaki Base Hospital with a gunshot wound to his chest. The shot is believed to have been fired at the Highway 61 pad.
November 10: Hāwera police were on high alert for gang reprisals after a Mongrel Mob member was bashed with metal pipes and wooden battens by about 20 Black Power members.
November 30: Hāwera residents cowered behind locked doors as violence erupted between arch rivals the Mongrel Mob and Black Power with up to 60 gang members fighting a pitched battle armed with machetes, baseball bats and axes along South Rd. The Mongrel Mob was on its way to Parihaka Pa to pay their respects to a member who died 2003. The conflict had begun about 28km away in Patea when the gang stopped for fuel.
November 16: Scaffolder Peri Niwa is stabbed to death in New Plymouth by members of the Black Power who believed he was a Mongrel Mob member. Black Power was intent on getting the gang off its turf. The Black Power president Steven Ngaia had issued orders to attack any members or associates of the Mob “on sight” after becoming aware the rival gang was in town.