Iwi steps in to ease gang tensions after rugby club van shot at

9:31 am on 17 April 2024
Club rugby shooting: YMP's team van was badly damaged by shotgun pellets after they left their abandoned game against Tamatea at Bill Matheson Park in Hastings.

A van belonging to the Young Māori Party rugby team was shot at after a match in Hastings. Photo: NZ Herald / Supplied

Ngāti Kahungunu has stepped in to ease gang tensions after a Hastings rugby match two weekends ago turned violent, and a van carrying a visiting team was shot at.

The game, between Hastings club Tamatea and the visiting Young Māori Party team - which is not politically affiliated - was called off before the shooting.

Police said gangs were involved, and two people had since been arrested.

The iwi's chair Bayden Barber has met with both Mongrel Mob and Black Power leaders - as well as police, and rugby club representatives - to try to make sure it did not happen again.

Barber told Morning Report the discussion started with safety, but expanded to "talk about the wider issues that have been impacting gang whānau for generations".

Ngāti Kahungunu had not had a formal relationship with the local gangs over the years, which would change going forward, he said.

The iwi had talked with police around match security, including holding future games on "neutral grounds" and having officers on hand.

"Just having a police presence can be enough to deter that type of behaviour."

Barber said both Mongrel Mob and Black Power leaders had spoken to their members about the rugby club fight and shooting.

Bayden Barber of Ngāti Kahungunu speaks as a delegation including representatives from Kīngitanga, Rātana, Parihaka and Te Pāti Māori is welcomed on to Te Whare Rūnanga at the Treaty grounds, on 4 February, 2024.

Ngāti Kahungunu chair Bayden Barber at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in February. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

"They've told their own members that it's not acceptable, that they do not condone it as a leadership."

There were numerous chapters of each gang in Hawke's Bay with their own leaders, which complicated matters, he said.

"[But] these guys carry a lot of mana within their circles so hopefully that message is being heard. They were confident that it was a one-off, so we have taken a little bit of comfort from that, but you just never know."

The iwi had also spoken with the gangs about getting their young members into trades training.

"We've got all these young people and they've got a lot of time on their hands not doing anything constructive, and how can we change that ... these young people could be part of that solution."

They had also discussed cultural identity: "They don't know who they are and the iwi can help with that."

Barber said the meeting had been very positive.

"We just want to make sure that we're in conversation with the gangs, we're in contact, and they understand us, we understand them and we're moving forward together."

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