Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws has described his city's
anti-gang patches bylaw, which came into force today, as "a
triumph for decency and democracy".
Wanganui District Council banned such patches from the city
at its meeting yesterday.
The bylaw gives police powers to fine patchwearers $2000 and
to take their gang insignia from them.
Mr Laws said it was "extraordinarily" rare for Parliament to
give a council such power.
"To ban gang patches and gang insignia will give a real
fillip to Wanganui police and to Wanganui citizens," he said.
"It removes gangs' most powerful and intimidatory weapon."
A report on the bylaw submissions hearing, tabled at
yesterday's meeting by senior councillor Randhir Dahya, said
the bylaw was intended to deal with gangs, but would not
affect clubs and groups who were law-abiding and
"There are people in Wanganui who will say we don't have a
gang problem but the fact is there is a gang problem in
Wanganui, just as there is in other towns and cities," Mr
Dahya's report said.
Police "totally supported" the passing of the bylaw, the
"This bylaw demonstrates this council's commitment to making
Wanganui a safe place for all."
The council was required to signpost where the bylaw would be
enforced, and could not determine "all public places in the
district are public places", the report said.
Mr Laws said that the voice of the Wanganui community had
been instrumental in guiding the council, with 67 percent of
people voting in Referendum '07 that gang insignia be banned.
"We are the first city and council in New Zealand to say
'enough' to the predations and petty terrorism of gangs," he
"Now it is time for the rest of New Zealand to follow our
lead. We don't have to put up with these criminals who are
intent upon undermining our society. They must not be