An important gathering in Northland this weekend focused on bringing peace amongst rival gangs. There was also a lot of sheer aggression on show at the Keep it in the Ring event.
Spokesperson and former Black Power member Tokomauri Hoterene said, "To have them show off their once were warriors skills is awesome. It's also a good way to show the rangatahi here because we have quite a bit of rangatahi as well first time fighters. And in this area, this sort of scene is awesome for them to come out and act as role models."
In what was a sold out event an estimated crowd of 400 representing the major gangs attended in support of the controlled environment for the twenty fights on the card.
From Tauranga, Kelvin Keleher of the Filthy Few gang said, "We're here to participate and just come up for a good day and to support what it's about it's a positive vibe. You don't see this often at all. It must be a first."
Tokomauri says, "We're all here to bring peace to our factions we're all here to bring peace to one another and show the world that we can get along."
There are high aspirations to put an end to gang related fatalities. The passion and sheer commitment shown by fighters and especially veteran gangsters to endure some brutal bouts for the cause brought this reporter to tears.
From Hastings, Rex Timu of the Mongrel Mob said, "It's our whakawhanaungatanga and kotahitanga we want to bring amongst ourselves. And what a better place instead of bringing the fights the armour and the guns out to the street in the communities. So it's up to the leaders to make that stand for it."
Tokomauri says, "We're getting there and it's achievable you know we're doing it right now. When everybody goes home and it's all peaceful then we can say we've achieved our dream."