After the incident at a rugby match in Wairoa where a gang member fired a shot-gun into the crowd, Detective Sergeant McKay said “it’s about time the public stood up and said ‘enough is enough'”. Does a public march satisfy this urging? Will any sort of public meeting change the mindset of the scum who behave as those the public voice is against, do? I doubt it. It’s going to take a deal more than tens, hundreds or even thousands of well-meaning but pissed off people to generate change in the minds of these lawless thugs.

What WOULD generate change would be the leadership of the gang saying “Enough is Enough! We will not put innocent lives at risk any more!” There is no doubt at all that the gang structure is such that there is authority, and the ‘old hands’ have that authority. If what was done at this match was not sanctioned by the gang the guy who fired the shot would be in deep shit. He would be punished. What the punishment might be I have no idea, but I can guarantee he would regret his actions!

Is the laying down or ‘the law’ by the gang heirarchy going to happen? I doubt this also. It’s a pity, it’s probably the best, and maybe the only solution for Wairoa (short of enacting draconian laws and mobilising hundreds of police and turning the district into more of a battle-ground than it is at present.)

That’s what I reckon, anyway.

I was at a conference once that was addressed by a black leader from Harlem. He spoke about the gangs in New York, how it was that there were so many and how much loyalty the members had for their particular gang. His explanation for the success of gangs was simple almost in the extreme- they provided what was missing in the youth’s lives- love (tough love admittedly, but in lieu of none at all it fits), rules for living (not those that ‘normal’ society abide by, but…) and guidelines for living, with limits imposed where the gang desired. The same can likely hold true for the gangs that exist in New Zealand. They are providing the same security for the at risk and ‘lost’ youth that our society has produced. Few people who have been brought up in a loving and sound family environment will end up in a gang, unless it’s a rugby team, a dance-class, or the police force!!

Ms Bennett should perhaps be taking this sort of message when she visits places such as Wairoa, considering such imperatives when she talks with the gangs, and investigating ways of strengthening families when talking to her Department and her caucus colleagues.


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