A special police operation has commenced amid rising tensions between the Mongrel Mob and Black Power chapters in Wairoa, in the Hawke's Bay.
Operation Atlas, which commenced last week, is a multi-faceted police response focusing on the Eastern Police district, with a current focus on the area of the town, Wairoa Police, the Wairoa District Council and Wairoa Taiwhenua said today in a joint statement.
Since June 3 2021, there have been five recorded incidents where firearms have been discharged at homes in the wider Wairoa area.
In early June, a Wairoa man received gunshot injuries, while in another incident last week, two children were asleep in a Raupunga house when it was fired upon from a vehicle.
“Thankfully in that case these tamariki were not injured,” senior sergeant Maui Aben said.
“But our message to those responsible for this offending, and the ongoing tensions is simple – community safety comes first, and we will hold you to account for your actions.”
Operation Atlas began in Wairoa on Thursday with the arrival of police staff from around the country to support local police.
“While these extra staff will remain with us for the next several weeks carrying out disruption and prevention activities, we do understand this is a long-term issue that requires long-term solutions.”
Police called a meeting earlier this year with the Wairoa community, iwi leaders and stakeholders to have an open discussion about the ongoing gang-related issues, and the affects violence and drugs are having on the wider community.
“We know we can’t make lasting change without our community partnering with us," Aben said.
"It’s time to do something different to ensure different results.”
Police are also working with key community and government agencies on a long-term plan focused on community safety in Wairoa.
The Wairoa District Council has been actively participating in recent hui with police.
“This is not a police problem. It is a gang problem and as a community we are behind police as we jointly work towards solutions,” Wairoa District Council Mayor Craig Little said.
“The current situation is rooted in complex intergenerational issues,” Wairoa Taiwhenua Chairman and Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi board member Nigel How added.
“Alcohol and drug abuse, organised crime and violence is not unique to gangs. These issues are found everywhere and reflect deeper collective trauma experienced by our community.
“Stable community safety will only come with manaakitanga (hospitality) for all. This means we all have an inherent responsibility to support and care for each other through the highs and lows. All of us, not just the continued tireless efforts of some individuals, social service providers and other entities in our community.
“Active manaakitanga by all, for all, including gang members.”
Members of the public with information or concerns in relation to the incidents can contact police on 105, quoting Operation Atlas / file number 210616/4442, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.