Wairoa community leaders are calling for calm in the wake of heightened inter-gang related conflict in the district.
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little, speaking on behalf of community leaders, said it is only a small pocket of people who are creating issues and making people fearful, and the entire Wairoa community needs to send a clear message that this behaviour is not acceptable.
“Over the past week or so there have been two burnt houses, burnt vehicles and a main street shooting which are all likely linked to inter-gang related conflict. It is such a shame that just a few people could potentially tarnish the great reputation our friendly town has.
“As a community we need to let the Police know what is happening to demonstrate that we will not tolerate continued unsafe behaviour. Police will act when they receive information from the public. Our community needs to be aware of the unsafe consequences of what is happening and of the difference people can make by reporting information.
“We cannot accept acts that put people’s lives at risk, destroy our neighbourhoods and in some instances intimidate and scare people.
“Community leaders have met with Police, and It is reassuring to know there will be additional Police and extra resources in the Wairoa district specifically with a focus on gangs and the suppression, disruption and prevention of organised crime in Tairāwhiti and Eastern District. Police remain in regular contact with gang leaders as part of their ongoing efforts to help keep Wairoa safe.
“It is not acceptable that the behaviour of a few people can be allowed to affect a whole community. Everyone, from our tamariki to our kaumātua, has a right to feel safe, and while this type of behaviour is occurring it can make people feel scared and nervous. The safety of people is the priority, and everyone has the right to walk down the main street and feel safe.
“It is disappointing some gang members are acting like this and allowing their issues to spill into the public. My hope is that whānau and friends will rally and send a clear message that Wairoa is our home, and we will not tolerate this disruption. I understand the frustration people have but we must ensure people work with the Police and not take matters into their own hands.”
Community leaders also want to work with the Police to focus on long-term prevention of this type of gang-related harm.
People do need to be mindful that unlawful behaviour is occurring and be watchful and vigilant. If you see something happening, please call 111, and if you have any information to report that is not an emergency or immediately putting anyone’s life in danger, please phone 105.
1 February 2023
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