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Gang Violence Out of Control in New Zealand
Police say only luck preventing multiple homicides
Alan Wheatley (wheatelz)     Print Article 
Published 2008-06-23 11:10 (KST)   
"I've been shot stabbed and almost dead, none of this has affected me and you think it should. I've had blood of the enemy on my hands. You can't kill all the Crips and you can't kill all the Bloods. It's like, why can't we wake up and see we're dyin' for nothing and killin' for nothing. We need to stop this drama cause killin' ain't gonna help nothin'."
While the quote is from a real-life American gangster, the words currently resonate across New Zealand this week after a week of senseless gang violence in the south, and probable gang-related murders in the country's largest city Auckland, plus a brutal attack on a birthday party in the centre of the North Island.

In the Hawkes Bay region of the North Island, police say it is a matter of pure luck that they are not dealing with multiple murders after members of a local gang chapter tore apart a 21st birthday party, using knives, baseball bats and a machete.

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Five partygoers were admitted to Hawke's Bay Hospital with serious injuries after 100 people at the Hastings party were attacked by local members of The Mongrel Mob around midnight on Saturday.

The brutal gang violence comes as police in the far south of the South Island try to extinguish a potentially lethal feud between two rival gangs -- the local chapters of The Mongrel Mob and their long-time opposition, The Road Knights. So far, two houses -- both thought to belong to the gangs -- have been destroyed by fire.

Hasting Mayor Lawrence Yule says the violence -- the fifth such gang-related attack in three weeks against innocent people - is causing major concern among residents and law enforcers alike.

Detective Sergeant Mike Foster of Hasting Police told The Dominion Post on June 23 that it appears a "reasonably senior" gang member who was known to the party organizers was not invited and was subsequently refused admission. He later returned with a car-load of armed gang associates.

Sergeant Foster says the gang-patched men slashing their way through the crowd must have been horrific. He says they stabbed, slashed and beat anybody who stepped in their way.

Meanwhile the Mayor of Invercargill, Tim Shadbolt, has called for wider police powers to confront the gangs, accusing the police of being hampered by red tape.

Neighbours of the torched gang houses were reluctant to comment but one man told The Southland Times on June 23 that it was good for the city that gang pads were being destroyed. "Let them kill themselves off and burn themselves out. Let the buggers go for it. They are doing a good job."

Mayor Shadbolt said, "At the end of the day New Zealand is going to have to look at itself as a country and work out what we are going to do to counter the gang problems. It's obviously a huge problem."

Acutely aware of the looming election later this year, the Prime Minister Helen Clark moved quickly to assure New Zealanders crime rates are actually dropping. She told a New Zealand TV news programme she believed overall, crime in the country is down.

"The perception that's being driven in the headlines is simply inaccurate. The figures are saying reported violent crime is up, but the increase is 93 percent driven by domestic and family violence being reported in a way it's never been reported before and it's important it's reported so we can actually deal with it."

Whatever the truth of that statement is, the fact remains the average New Zealander -- and that means potential voter -- is now seeing organized crime and gang related violence as a major election issue and it's an issue that not only will not go away but one that has the potential to unseat an entire administration.

©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Alan Wheatley

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