Henare O’Keefe’s response to the unprovoked attack on his daughter and son-in-law by Mongrel Mob members was to call for the community to speak out against violence. We did in our thousands by marching through the streets of Hastings.

‘Enough is enough’ was a clear community message to the Mongrel Mob, and other gangs, that their violent behaviour is not acceptable. Mob leaders met with Mayor. The politician talked tough. There haven’t been any serious incidents since.

The Mongrel Mob doesn’t want publicity, and every time their violence spills into innocent lives, they expose themselves to public scrutiny.

Now with a National-led Government and Act in support, all gangs would be wise to lower their profiles.

John Key said during the election he believed police and the courts needed to be given greater powers to deal with gangs so they can “storm and remove gang fortifications.”

Rodney Hide’s “three strikes out and you’re out,” was a slogan during the election. His policy for violent offenders could now become a reality, and Act has tough policy for gang busting, which include creation of an organised crime tactical unit, and disestablishment of gang wings in prisons.

Watch the made for TV documentary Kemp on Gangs featuring the Mongrel Mob and you’ll see why the Mob insisted on a contract prohibiting distribution in New Zealand. Common knowledge of their culture could spurn a serious political backlash.

The documentary exposes a well-resourced criminal organisation whose culture of fear, drugs, drinking, rape and extreme violence coexists alongside, and within normal law-abiding communities.

Kemp was including the Mongrel Mob presence in Hastings and Napier when he said he was surprised by the “pockets of savagery that exist in one of the safest and most civilised places on the planet.”

The Mongrel Mob started life in Hastings in the 60’s, after a Magistrate called a group of men appearing before him, “a pack of mongrels.”

They appropriated his terminology, and over time, have returned his contempt and loathing manyfold.

They became the Dogs. Their women were Bitches. Their symbol became the English Bulldog wearing a German Stalhhelm helmet: an image designed to offend the returned servicemen who they saw controlled society. The Swastika was added to make no mistake. MMM could be a play on KKK. The Shaka sign hand gesture, which is banned in the Courts, spells MMM when rotated.

In Bill Payne’s book, Staunch: Inside the Gangs, a Mongrel Mob member explains what it is to be a Dog. “Rape, kill and plunder! (Laughs)  A typical dog? To live like a dog for the rest of your life and take all, and do all, that comes with it. And don’t get stood on by no outsider.”

Mob members tell Kemp their violence comes from their warrior background. But a hot debate is taking place in academia. Dr Rod Lea’s questionable discovery of a warrior gene in Maori supports the theory; while Greg Newbold of Canterbury University points out that pre-European Maori did not rape their women or main their children.

Mongrel Mob violence is indisputably linked to alcohol and drug abuse. The boundaries of lawful and civilised behaviour melt more readily when minds are swamped with chemicals, and as drug production and distribution is a major slice of their criminal activity, there’s always a ready supply, and money to buy the booze.

The image of hard man with easy access to drugs and sex is a powerful attraction to many young men, especially those marginalised by the education system, and from broken homes. The gangs offer a substitute family and a sense of community.

As ex-chapter leader Tuhoe ‘Bruno’ Issac says, “Here I found true acceptance and comradeship among a common brotherhood; I was willing to die for them.”

The Mongrel Mob is over 40 years old now, and has many different strands of connection and association with many families in Hawke’s Bay. The majority are law abiding citizens, but a hard core are involved in illegal activities, which include black-market seafood (crayfish and paua), the growing, manufacture, and distribution of drugs, prostitution, theft, and extortion, mostly for protection in prison.

Violence revolves around protection of these activities, and it is often the young “prospects,” keen to prove their worth, who commit the violent assaults. That their aggression is increasingly fuelled by the drug P is a recent development, and there are indications that the Mob’s hierarchy of absolute obedience to the top “dogs” is collapsing as young prospects, emboldened by the effects of P, challenge the authority of the leaders. On top of this, the Mob are being challenged by other gangs in the highly lucrative P market.

P is a scourge that is eroding the Mongrel Mob from within, and if the new Government delivers on its promises, they will be pressured from without by the forces of law and order.

Henare O’Keefe was saddened that one of the young men who violently invaded his daughter’s home was sent to prison. “This boy is quite salvageable, and there is so much we could have done.”

Recognition that in each individual there is a strand of creativity and goodness is something to keep in mind as our new Government rolls out its tough policy on law and order.

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1 Comment

  1. Yes it is true that there is goodness in all (well, almost all), but the problem is that unless the child divorces themselves from the way they have been brought up, and the way they have seen family and friends live and behave all their lives, it's just too hard. Bless them. People and agencies intervene at various stages in the life of a 'troubled child' but rarely is this effective. I am happy to hear that P is eroding the Mongrel Mob, that is a brilliant irony. And I am happy to hear that National will take a hard line on gangs. Hastings would be a much better place without them. And then maybe that kid wouldn't have joined the gang and there would be one less kid in prison.

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