Police close roads as helicopter monitors gang funeral in Auckland

3:51 pm on 18 June 2021

Police have closed roads in inner Auckland to handle a large funeral procession for a gang member this afternoon.

Gang members from the Head Hunters, Rebels, Comancheros and King Cobras arrived in cars and motorbikes at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Grey Lynn this morning for the funeral of Taranaki Fuimaono, who died in Auckland Hospital following his arrest on Saturday.

Fuimaono, a 43-year-old senior Head Hunter, was farewelled at the church before a burial at the Māngere Lawn Cemetery.

Gang patches from the Head Hunters, the Rebels, King Cobras and Killer Bees were on display.

A police source told RNZ many new gang members had been patched recently.

The source said the large funeral was partly explained by Fuimaono's wider gang allegiances after moving from the King Cobras to the Head Hunters.

A section of Great North Road between Williamson Ave and Coleridge Street has been closed and cordons are also in place on Crummer Road and Coleridge Street.

Inspector Jacqui Whittaker says police want to assure the community the cordons are a precaution to keep motorists safe.

A spokesperson at St Joseph's told RNZ it was Fuimaono's family church.

People would head to Māngere for the burial after a mass at the church, the spokesperson said.

Head Hunters gang funeral at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Grey Lynn.

People gathered at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Grey Lynn for a gang funeral today. Photo: RNZ / John Edens

Despite police warnings, earlier today nearby Postal Service Cafe's marketing manager Russell Hodgson said the business served some Head Hunter members and he had no concerns.

It was business as usual with the odd motorcycle going past, he said.

"It's just been a standard day, a few loud motorcycles going past and a couple of the (Head Hunter) members came in for a coffee," Hodgson said.

"There's definitely notice of police presence, couple of police motorcycles outside the Grey Lynn Village area just keeping an eye on everything.

"But everything seems to be quiet normal, a normal busy friday for us."

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Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

Earlier, Inspector Jacqui Whittaker said "a large number of riders are expected to take part, with the procession travelling across Auckland throughout the day.

"We are aware of previous incidents involving gang processions where dangerous driving behaviour has been exhibited by some of the riders, which has at times put those involved and the wider community at risk.

"Police will be actively monitoring this event to ensure the procession is carried out in a safe manner for all road users.

"Any unsafe or dangerous behaviour occurring throughout the procession will be followed up by police where appropriate action will be taken."

Head Hunters gang funeral at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Grey Lynn.

The funeral is being held at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Grey Lynn. Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

Officers were on the street near the church and the police Eagle helicopter could also be seen.

An incident investigation is underway into the circumstances surrounding Fuimaono's death and it has been reported to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The largest gang funeral for about five years has been held in Auckland.