Most read story of the week: Aussie bikie gangs target of police's new organised crime taskforce in Tauranga

Note: This story first ran on 1 NEWS on Tuesday, March 13

Also in its sights are Australian bikie gangs with an increasing presence in NZ. Source: 1 NEWS

A new organised crime police taskforce is opening in Tauranga to target the influx of Australian motorcycle gangs to the region.

Police Minister Stuart Nash was in Tauranga to launch the first new branch of the National Organised Crime Group outside of Auckland and Wellington.

A statement released by the New Zealand Police said the taskforce was strategically based in Tauranga to help deal with organised crime, methamphetamine production and importation and asset recovery.

The organised crime taskforce expansion into the Bay of Plenty was largely due to the growing numbers of Australian bikies, particularly the Comancheros and Bandidos, who have been deported from Australia for their past criminal histories and failure of the "good character" legal test.

The encroachment of the long-established Australian chapters of the Comancheros and Bandidos onto Kiwi soil comes after another Australian bikie gang, the Rebels, as well as the Head Hunters, established chapters in Tauranga over the last few years.

"Organised criminals with transnational ties are operating in the region," says Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

The appeal of Tauranga as a base for bikie gangs comes from the presence of the busiest port in the country - and the potential to smuggle large drug quantities through it on container ships.

"Tauranga is an area of growth for New Zealand and good people are setting themselves up in Tauranga," Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers said in anticipation of the opening.

"Organised criminals are too. Being on their back doorstep is the right thing to do."

Making up the new team will be six detectives focusing exclusively on organised crime in the Tauranga region, and reporting back to the larger police base in Wellington.

New Zealand police have for years now warned of the threat deported "Kiwi" gang members, many who have spent the majority of their lives in Australia, would in time strengthen New Zealand gangs and increase their criminal efficiency. 

Police seek public help as locals worry Black Power may be linked to Wellington homicide

Police are appealing for public information as local rumours rumours circulate the death of a Wainuiomata man may be gang related. 

At about 11pm last Wednesday Paul Te Hiko was found dead at a property in Wainuiomata. 

Wellington police launched a homicide investigation on the weekend after post mortem results revealed the 40-year-old died from a gunshot wound.

The area remains cordoned off as inquiries into his death continue. 

"We continue to door-knock residents in the area, and we are still urging locals and any witnesses to contact police if they saw or heard anything last on Wednesday, March 7," says Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Sears. 

"We are particularly interested in sightings of any persons or vehicles in the area."

Several neighbours told the New Zealand Herald there were rumours the Black Power gang was involved.

But police say they are unable to confirm if his death is gang related, and stress the importance of the public coming forward with any information.

The body of Paul te Hiko was found on Wednesday night, prompting a homicide inquiry. Source: 1 NEWS


Do you know these thugs? Hamilton shopkeeper hit with axe and machete in robbery, suffers fractured skull

Hamilton Police have released images of a robbery at the Emm Jay Dairy in Hamilton where the shopkeeper was hit in the head with an axe and machete.

The robbery took place about 8.30am today, police said, at the dairy on the corner of Brookfield and Gray Streets.

Two masked males came into the shop and approached the shopkeeper, who was working by himself.

They hit him on the head and hands before stealing cigarettes and cash from the store and leaving in a stolen Mazda Familia, registration FEP218.

The shopkeeper was taken to Waikato Hospital and had suffered significant wounds to his hands and a fractured skull.

Police want to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time, or who may have information on who the people are.

Detective Scott Neilson can be contacted on 07 858 6200, or information can be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Hamilton Police have released CCTV imagery from a robbery at the Emm Jay Dairy in Hamilton.
Hamilton Police have released CCTV imagery from a robbery at the Emm Jay Dairy in Hamilton. Source: Supplied