Wairoa misses out on gang support

  • North Island: East Coast

Wairoa has been overlooked for a new pilot programme aimed at supporting the partners and children of gangs as part of the government's Gang Action Plan, Start at Home. Senior Black Power associate Puawai Tipuna says the plan would be beneficial to Wairoa

Tipuna didn't want his 12 children to follow the gang life.

“To me what really made my family turn to black power follow the black power was when my nephews got shot up the main street up town and killed them. From then on all my nephews just put the patch on of black power.”

At 70 years old, he's seen all the perils that come with gangs.

Tipuna says, “None of my brothers joined a gang it was all our offspring our kids three of my boys went in and five of one of my brothers and my sisters kids about 10 of them. You know they just went anywhere to get a patch.”

Wairoa, the town he lives in has a reputation as a gang town but has missed out on some much-needed government assistance to help break intergenerational gang life.

The Ministry of Social Development said it's rolling out the pilot programme in two locations only, the East Coast and the Bay of Plenty, at a cost of $1 million over two years.

“I think Wairoa needs it, all the funding for some specialised thing because I know the kids here, why aren't you at school, oh I don't want to go,” says Tipuna.

A future decision is yet to be made over whether it will be rolled out in other locations, and whether Wairoa will be included on that list.