Thursday, 16 December 2010


Sometimes we need to be very brave in life and face the reality of our situation and make some hard calls. Wairoa is a tough town. Its almost 50% Maori.

The council decided to face up to the ugly reality that the towns gang culture was killing their kids.

They were going to ban patches after seeing the impact that a gang patch ban had in Wanganui.

But did they hang tough? No. It seems that the council got railroaded by the "good folk" of the town.

Leave the gangs alone they said. Mayor Les Probert says that the problem was that most of the towns large Maori population had gang connections so they did not want a ban on gang patches.

So the Maori leaders of Wairoa are saying that they support the gangs. That gangs are okay. that gangs rule.

And as Wairoa knows - when gangs rule - they kill.

Lets get this right folks. Maori have no business protecting gangs - gangs tikanga (lore or way of doing things) is not Maori tikanga. Its Gang culture. Not Maori culture. Stealing killing, selling drugs are not traditional Maori practices.

Banning the patches sends one single powerful message. Gangs are not normal.

But instead Wairoa has bent over and handed the gangs the vaseline.

The simple truth is that Wairoa as a town needed to make the hard call. Face up to the reality and say no more to the gangs. Maori leaders needed to stand up and say that their tikanga is more important that that of the gangs.

Instead they are now collectively culpable for the next youth death in the town.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

While I agree with the tenor of your post I must take issue with your assertion that stealing and killing are not part of 'traditional Maori practice.' The exact opposite is the case. They were an integral part of inter tribal clashes before and after the arrival of the white man.

Mind you, the white man did his fair share of killing and stealing in the name of 'empire.'

kevin said...

Kawerau has the same stats/problem. Rotorua is not far behind... unfortunately. Oh what to do?

Unknown said...

An excellent post!

"Its Gang culture. Not Maori culture."

This a huge issue. The behaviour of some sectors of Maoridom is being sold to all New Zealanders (Maori included) as Maori culture and therefore protected. You have hit the nail on the head.

Unfortunately, banning patches in one small town will not solve the problem. Though I think it would be a useful step - it raises difficult questions about personal freedoms being limited by (local) government. That said - if the exercise of a personal freedom has the effect of inciting hatred and violence then that may be enough to justify a ban (which may then do nothing more than move the problem elsewhere).

Do we really understand WHY gangs remain so strong? If we did, maybe we would have a better idea how to combat the problem. I certainly don't have the answers :-(

Anonymous said...

People, Gangs are simply organised crime. When you support them you support crime and all of the associated misery