Gangs rule the roost and we’re only help­ing them

Waikato Times - - Opinion - Max Christof­fersen

The mo­tor­bike pulled up next to me at the lights. It was shin­ing in the sun, the chrome awash with re­flec­tions of the street, the sky and the cars around it filled with men star­ing with lust in their eyes at the me­chan­i­cal mon­ster bur­bling away be­side us.

It had sen­sual curves and tyres wider than my car. This wasn’t just a mo­tor­bike. This was automotive art and we all knew it. It was part mid-life cri­sis on wheels and in part a metaphor for sex­u­al­ity and free­dom.

It per­son­i­fied the dreams of mid­dle class 40-hour-a-week work­ing men who want to be the rebel – just for one day.

The ad­mir­ing looks from oth­ers parked at the lights re­vealed their un­spo­ken longing; they too wished they had the cash to buy the gor­geous cre­ation god would ride if he had leathers.

As it took off from the lights leav­ing us all be­hind, we all sat there for a sec­ond watch­ing it de­part, the smoke and the sound and the fly­ing hair filled us with thoughts of Jack Ker­ouac styled free­dom on lost high­ways un­til we no­ticed the Nazi-styled hel­met and gang patch rid­ing on it.

The owner wasn’t a di­vorced mid-lifer rid­ing a dream bike down Vic­to­ria Street. The gang patch told a dif­fer­ent story.

As he rode away with the smoke hang­ing in the air I won­dered how he could af­ford it. I would never own that bike. I wanted to know how he could?

The an­swer is ob­vi­ous. We paid for it.

It’s pro­ceeds from drug crime. I later won­dered why ev­ery patched mem­ber rid­ing a Har­ley isn’t stopped by cops and asked to pro­vide ev­i­dence de­tail­ing where the money came from to buy it?

Is the owner em­ployed on a six fig­ure salary to keep his kids fed, school fees paid, the mort­gage pay­ments up to date and the Har­ley Dav­i­son well oiled?

So far this year, around $14m has been re­cov­ered Un­der the Crim­i­nal Pro­ceeds Re­cov­ery Act. I fig­ured there was a bunch more the cops could have snared rid­ing up Vic­to­ria St in a haze of smoke and noise that morn­ing. There’s a harsh re­al­ity to face in God­zone. The patched ele­phant in the room, in the city, in the coun­try, in par­lia­ment, in coun­cil cham­bers and on our streets is gangs rule. Prime Min­is­ter Ardern may think she runs the coun­try. She doesn’t, gangs do.

The cops and politi­cians are out mus­cled, out staffed, out thought, out or­gan­ised and out gunned. Gangs rule New Zealand. They know it and we don’t want to ad­mit it.

The great­est threat to New Zealand’s wel­fare and well-be­ing isn’t cli­mate change, it’s gangs.

But there was no dis­cus­sion of this fact at the United Na­tions by the prime min­is­ter. No ac­knowl­edg­ment of the re­al­ity of life on New Zealand’s streets.

Whether you’re in small Waikato towns (Te Kuiti, Ngaru­awahia), Coro­man­del beach re­sorts or the big smoke, drug money and gang af­fil­i­a­tion rules the towns and im­pacts on life on the street. The sad sight of young kids walk­ing the gang swag­ger on Hamil­ton streets while still in their teens should be sound­ing alarms for Maori lead­ers. But they re­main silent.

While govern­ment makes the usual noises about get­ting tough with an­other crack down on gangs, the truth is they have al­ready won. This is a no con­test com­pe­ti­tion. It is game over. You have to hand it to the gangs, for ‘clubs’ pop­u­lated by ‘so­ci­ety’s losers’ they re­ally know how to run big busi­ness.

It’s just a shame they hurt their own whanau and mokop­una at the same time as they’re pos­ing as sup­port­ive brothers in arms, a new whanau to other dis­en­fran­chised Maori.

As that bike pulled away I won­dered where the Maori lead­er­ship is with gangs?

Is Tainui chief ex­ec­u­tive Donna Flavell go­ing to in­vite gang lead­ers to live in warm dry houses in their new Te Kaarearea devel­op­ment?

Is she go­ing to take a lead­er­ship role with tribal gang mem­bers who feel more af­fil­i­a­tion to the Mon­grel Mob than Tainui? Is Tainui go­ing to own the gang prob­lem af­fect­ing tribal mem­bers? It’s go­ing to take more than gang lead­ers mak­ing sand­wiches for school kids or re­nounc­ing their ways while they dis­cover god or te reo to make a last­ing dif­fer­ence.

The way you cut the head off the snake is to stop buy­ing the things they make.

The gang prob­lem in New Zealand isn’t solely a Maori prob­lem.

It’s a white mid­dle class prob­lem. If you don’t like gangs then don’t fi­nance them through the pur­chase of drugs for your next quiet night at home in Hill­crest.

So the next time a Har­ley David­son pulls up next to you at the lights with gang patch in clear sight, ask your­self, who paid for the bike?

If you did, you’re part of the prob­lem and not part of the so­lu­tion.

If you don’t like gangs then don’t fi­nance them through the pur­chase of drugs for your next quiet night at home in Hill­crest.

STUFF

How can patched gang mem­bers af­ford nice bikes? asks Max Christof­fersen.

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