19 Jun 2021

Coverage of gang funerals overdone, expert says

12:57 pm on 19 June 2021

A gang expert says the coverage of gang funeral processions could be overdone.

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

Photo: RNZ / John Edens

Yesterday, some streets were temporarily blocked off in Auckland as a senior Head Hunter was farewelled at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Grey Lynn.

The tangi of 43-year-old Taranaki Fuimaono, who died in police custody last weekend, was one of the biggest gang funerals in recent years.

Police said the procession went relatively well, but sociologist Jarrod Gilbert - who has written a history of gangs - said this was not really surprising.

"Most of these funerals occur, make a splash in the media but don't really affect anyone in any significant or even insignificant way," he said. "We run the risk of making a bit more of it than it actually is."

Auckland District Commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus told Checkpoint's Lisa Owen that with 300 to 400 motorbikes and their riders involved, it was crucial for police to maintain a strong presence, both on land and via the Eagle helicopter that hovered overhead.

"From our point of view, the [funeral] procession went relatively well. Yes, there were roads blocked off and we did have to employ traffic management plans, but our aim, as always, is to ensure that everyone on the roads is safe and is kept safe. And that's what we feel that we were able to achieve today."

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