Ban on gang in­signia?

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Gang in­signia could be banned from Porirua ceme­tery head­stones af­ter a woman had her hus­band’s body dis­in­terred and moved when a Mon­grel Mob mem­ber was buried next to him.

How­ever, a Mon­grel Mob spokesman says such a move would be in­tru­sive and dis­re­spect­ful.

Porirua City Coun­cil is propos­ing to ban of­fen­sive word­ing or designs on grave­stones at Whenua Tapu ceme­tery. In 2008 a man’s body was moved af­ter his widow, a daily vis­i­tor, took of­fence to gang in­signia on a neigh­bour­ing grave’s head­stone.

The pro­posal is part of an over­haul of the coun­cil’s ceme­ter­ies man­age­ment plan and by­law. At present there is no pol­icy on swear words, art­work or any head­stone in­scrip­tion that could po­ten­tially cause of­fence, a re­port states.

‘‘ The coun­cil has pre­vi­ously re­ceived com­plaints re­gard­ing word­ing/de­sign on mon­u­ments that were seen as of­fen­sive by mem­bers of the public. To ad­dress this, the pro­posed man­age­ment plan states that when au­tho­ris­ing a mon­u­ment coun­cil will take into con­sid­er­a­tion the word­ing and dec­o­ra­tions on the mon­u­ments when giv­ing its ap­proval.’’

The is­sue will be of­fered for public con­sul­ta­tion from May 15 to June 18.

The coun­cil is keen to know what peo­ple would find of­fen­sive on head­stones, and sub­mis­sions will help shape its pol­icy. Mon­grel Mob mem­ber Den­nis Makalio says such a ban would be in in­sult to mem­bers.

‘‘Peo­ple have worn this all their lives. It’s part of their lives. It’s like telling Samoans to take off their lava-lavas at a fu­neral,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s like racism. It’s like, ‘we don’t want a Maori next to us’.’’

About 10 years ago the Mon­grel Mob agreed to re­move the words ‘‘seig heil’’, a Mob salute, from head­stones, re­plac­ing it with the acro­nym ‘‘SFH’’, Mr Makalio says.

He was not aware of the lat­est coun­cil plan, but he says the coun­cil tend to per­se­cute the Mob, which is a Porirua in­sti­tu­tion.

‘‘Coun­cil­lors have al­ways been against us from day one. At the end of the day, we’ve been here since 1969,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s go­ing back to say­ing where we can wear our patches.’’

Mr Makalio of­ten pre­pares Mob graves for burial, and has pho­tographed 178 Mob graves na­tion­wide for a Mob his­tory he is writ­ing.

In­signia makes the graves eas­ier to lo­cate for vis­it­ing gang mem­bers, Mr Makalio says. Coun­cil rules would al­low the Mob to ask for a sep­a­rate sec­tion of Whenua Tapu, like Mus­lims and RSA mem­bers have, which Mr Makalio is open to.

‘‘It’s no dif­fer­ent to An­zac and all that stuff. Whenua Tapu is about re­spect. It’s not about telling peo­ple how they should show re­spect.’’

Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion spokesman Gil­bert Wong says the is­sue is new to him. Peo­ple are wel­come to com­plain to the com­mis­sion but there are no le­gal grounds for such a dis­crim­i­na­tion case, un­like in­stances of racism, sex­ism and ageism.

‘‘The is­sue needs to be dealt with sen­si­tively,’’ Mr Wong says.

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