Gangs in deal to mow Dunedin lawns

The Notorious Mongrel Mob and Black Power could be coming to a lawn near you.

The Dunedin City Council is set to run a trial allowing the once-warring gangs to pick up contracts from its parks and reserves department.

Last year, the two gangs made a joint submission at annual plan hearings, asking councillors to consider giving them a contract to maintain some of its green space.

Almost a year on, the gangs are closer to reaching their vision, with council events and community development manager Rebecca Williams saying it was looking at running the trial - which could cover other organisations working with people struggling to find employment - for a year from July.

''In the first instance, we are going to be working with the parks department and looking at some of their smaller contracts and how we might make them available,'' she said.

''The trial might be small, but we certainly want to grow it to include all those who work with people who find it difficult to get employment.''

Asked why the council had been keen to follow through on last year's submission, Mrs Williams said: ''Council recognises that there are many in the community that do struggle to find employment and what role do we play as a big organisation in a city to help those people.''

To those who thought the council should not be helping out gang members she said: ''We need to ensure that there are ways that all members of society can contribute and this is one way of council being able to do that.''

Before getting a council contract, the group would need to prove it was up to scratch as an entity, something the Ministry of Maori Development (Te Puni Kokiri) was helping with.

''There are health and safety requirements and contracting requirements that [Mangu Kaha (Black Power) leader Albert Epere] will need to meet before we can enter into an arrangement.''

The policy would not cost council anything because it was work that already needed done, she said.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the development was a ''positive step'' towards helping gang members find a ''different way'' for them and their families.

''We are not giving them a hand-out. On my understanding, we are allowing them to tender for specific bits of work,'' Mr Cull said.

The trial did not need to be approved by councillors because it was within the chief executive's delegation to procure services.

At last year's hearings, Mr Epere said the plan was about the two gangs moving on from their ''colourful histories''.

''It's not about us; it's about our kids. We have made a path and now we are trying to change it.''

Notorious Mongrel Mob spokesman Paddy Mason said the ''times had changed'' and both gangs were keen to make Dunedin ''a better place for everyone''.

The group's message attracted strong support from councillors at the meeting.


Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter