A break-off chapter of the Mongrel Mob yesterday met with Māori leaders to discuss how they can become more "acceptable".
The Hamilton chapter insists they've kicked drugs and crime and want to be "productive" members of society.
One member who welcomed community members and Māori leaders onto their patch was Sonny Fatupaito, who has led the Mongrel Mob Kingdom chapter in the Waikato for the past 22 years.
"The message is, 'You're welcome here, this is our place, this is a safe place,'" Mr Fatupaito said. "What we do care about is the healing of our people."
The gangsters claim to have changed their ways, focusing now on helping their community.
"This about being more constructive and more positive and productive in society and even within amongst ourselves."
While they're struggling to kick their reputation, one MP didn't want to write off the group's accomplishments.
"They are our people, and I don't judge people, you know? I definitely don't," Māori Party founder Tariana Turia said. "Not only that, they’ve done some great work.
"I get really concerned about the attitudes of the media, of other politicians, of other people when they judge people by what they've got on their back."
The chapter, which is anti-domestic violence, is now setting up its own women's chapter.
The Mongrel Mob Wahine Toa president is educationist Donna Ormsby, who said she "almost felt compelled to assist because so many agencies out there refuse to assist".
However, Mr Fatupaito conceded that his influence could only reach so far.
"I don't micromanage our members. I tell them where my stances is and that's how I roll, you know, if you're gonna be in there and you're doing stuff that you shouldn't be doing, you get caught for what you're doing," he said.
Many of the mobsters present at the hui have been in and out of prison, and some have dozens of convictions - crimes that most would consider horrendous.
While there was barking by gang members, the mood appeared to be nothing but peaceful.