Gang skirmishes on the banks of the Wairoa River marring
Matariki celebrations will not be tolerated, says the town's
Wairoa Police said the fighting between Black Power and
Mongrel Mob members, at the Maori New Year celebrations last
Friday night, set a bad example for the dozens of children
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little, who attended the event, was
"absolutely disappointed" in Friday's incident and said "the
people of Wairoa aren't going to put up with this sort of
The community-organised celebrations attracted mainly
families and were held at the Wairoa Community Centre and on
the banks of the river, in the heart of the northern Hawkes
"By the sounds of things they were young prospects, if you
can even call them that ... it was great to see that they
were shut down very quickly by the police," Mr Little said.
"I'm going to meet with the gang leaders and I'm sure they
will be very disappointed at what happened. The gang leaders
have actually apologised to the community of Wairoa."
Senior Sergeant Tony Bates, of Wairoa Police, said the event
was "blighted" by the fight, which allegedly included the use
of a hammer, but by the time police had been notified and
arrived at the scene, those involved in the conflict had
"This was an unfortunate incident that detracted from the
whole event, which was meant to promote community spirit and
a celebration of a special event," he said. "Our community
deserves to be able to hold these events without fear of
violence or gang conflict."
Mr Little said the rival gang battle began after the
fireworks and the alleged use of a hammer showed the
character of those involved.
"I understand it was thrown and hit someone's leg, nothing
too serious in terms of injuries, but it would have been the
first thing they saw and something that they just grabbed to
bring along ... It shows the calibre of the people we are
Mr Bates said police would be speaking with both gangs in the
town about the incident and inquiries into those involved in
the fight were underway.
- By Sam Hurley of Hawke's Bay Today