Gangs from across the country have arrived in Whangarei in anticipation of an inaugural organised boxing event aimed at ending violence in the community.
Head Hunter, Calen Morris says, "I'll be fighting for my cousin Connor Morris who was murdered. Hopefully, everyone can be honourable about things, you know what I mean? If we can address our problems and address our differences in the ring that'll be ok. This place is too small for firearms."
With twenty fights on the card, fighters were weighed, tested and then partnered up with their opponents in front of a room of over a hundred gangsters at Whangarei's Distinction Hotel.
From Palmerston North, Te Kaipo Ahuriri is a member of the Outlaw chapter of the Storm Troopers, "I've got children in other gangs and nephews and they put selfies on Facebook with guns and stuff like that and talk it up. I've just turned 45 but I want to show them you get respect this way and not that way."
Northland based Black Power member Puketi Timoti Hohaia said jumping in the ring was the least of his worries, "We're here to alleviate conflict. This is just a stepping stone this kaupapa this is a stepping stone to bigger things. With dialogue and us coming together whakawhanaungatanga we need to come together a lot more so when issues pop up we're able to sort them."
Gang leaders say this event is a first in an attempt to find a solution to the recent spate of murders and shootings and marks the beginning of a combined effort to achieve their goal.
Organiser and former Black Power member Tokomauri Hoterene addressed the gathering, " Thank you, fellas, for all being here. To come together for the purpose of one course and that's to bring peace. Whatever everybody has come together for we all come under this one banner."
Rex Timu who leads the Hawkes Bay chapter of the Mongrel Mob says, "It's part of the education stuff that we're trying to get out to our whanau right around the motu. Education prevention we want to stop all the shit that's happening out there. The only way we can see to doing it is to get in the ring."