8 Apr 2024

Police investigating shotgun attack on rugby team's van in Hawke's Bay

10:34 am on 8 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.

The coach of the Young Maori Party team, Guy Taylor, told Morning Report there was serious provocation at the grounds from people on the sideline. Photo: NZ Herald / Supplied

Police are following "strong" lines of enquiry after a fiery rugby match ended in a van in Hastings being shot at.

The van was attacked after a match between Tamatea and Young Māori Party (YMP) on Saturday.

The Hastings YMP was established in 1956 and is not related to the political organisation Te Pāti Māori or the Young Māori Party rugby club based in Gisborne.

The match was abandoned early due to safety concerns, but YMP's van encountered trouble after it left.

Police on Sunday said the shotgun attack was "gang-linked".

However, on Monday, Hawke's Bay area commander Inspector Lincoln Sycamore would not comment if gangs were involved, just that police were looking into it.

He told Morning Report police were reviewing CCTV footage throughout Hastings to identify those involved.

"It's an extremely serious event," Sycamore said,

"The risk when a firearm is discharged ... I can't overstate how dangerous it is."

He said he would be "pretty frightened" for those in the back of the van.

"It appears to be a single, maybe two blasts from a shotgun."

He asked for witnesses or anyone with information to contact police.

"The lines of enquiry we've got are really strong," he said and there was no ongoing risk to the public.

The team's coach, Guy Taylor, was in the driver's seat at the time, and he said the van was rammed as well as shot at.

He was able to turn the van around and return to Bill Mathewson Park, where he knew there was a police presence.

Sycamore said police were at the game due to reports of a disorder event.

He said police had never had problems with either team before.

A witness said after a Tamatea player was floored by a tackle, young supporters of the team ran out onto the field and pulled out weapons, including knives.

The YMP on social media Sunday said the game was called off early "due to a number of sideline abusers, one who kicked our player while he was on the ground".

"The situation then escalated once the team was back at the changing rooms where one of the Tamatea players called for a fight with a YMP player."

Tamatea Rugby & Sports Club chairperson Stewart Whyte said the club did not support gangs or have association with gangs.

He said the incident "involved gang members who are not associated with Tamatea and are not members of our club".

The YMP hoped Hawke's Bay Rugby Union would address the situation.

"It is disappointing when these type of things happen whilst being hosted by other clubs and is very concerning for our younger whānau and tamariki who enjoy watching their parents/uncles play a game of footy on a Saturday afternoon."