Police say organised ‘fight nights’ between rival gangs are not the answer to preventing arrests and unnecessary deaths.
The first of the organised Boxing Fight Nights between participating gangs from across the country is set to take place in Northland next month and carries the slogan "Keep it in the Ring."
According to the gangs involved, the purpose of the event is to try and reduce the amount of crime and people killed unnecessarily due to gang tensions and rivalry.
Whangarei Area Commander, Inspector Justin Rogers says police are aware of the fight nights and are planning a major operation to police everyone involved.
Rival gangs met in Otangarei yesterday to discuss the Te Taitokerau Fight Night and former gang member turned social worker Toko Hoterene told Te Kāea, "We want our whanaunga, our dads, our uncles, our grandfathers, we want them to go home. Whats a black eye and a broken nose or a few missing teeth compared to a bullet in the head or a bullet in the chest. We want our kids to be happy. So this is the reason why we're coming together."
However, Inspector Rogers says “If gangs want to contribute to reducing violence and harm in our communities, don’t become involved in violent acts, and assist Police when we are investigating those incidents.”
The President of the New Zealand chapter of the Mongrel Mob known as Smashdog told Te Kaea, "It's about time. Something happened with us as gangsters, you know. We should be sticking together you know, brothers aye, that's what we're all about, sticking together. Things have changed. We're trying to make good all the P and all that sort of stuff and all the murders. We've just had enough."
Inspector Rogers says Police have spoken with the original venue organiser who declined to hold the event after speaking with them.
He says, "We’ve spoken to the current venue and suggested they do not hold it."
Toko Hoterene says the fact that the gangs are able to come together to discuss alternative ways of settling differences is a sign they are open to making changes.
"You know like the headhunters, like the nomads, even our own little rōpū in here, our Mangu Kaha. To have the Mongrel Mob even come in here (Otangarei). That's a big no no! But we're making changes and I hope that people out there can see that we're making changes."
Police say whether they are welcome at the event or not they will be attending to ensure all people are adhering to the club’s licence.
Dean Nathan attended the meeting in Otangarei yesterday and filed this story