When the subject of gangs in the community comes up it's easy to dismiss it as something that doesn't affect us.

We hear of violence and crime committed by gangs and shake our heads and say "How awful", but for many it's not something that has ever impacted directly on our lives. So it's easy to ignore.

But as the events of the past couple of days in Rotorua show, it is something everyone needs to be concerned about.

The warring gang members are not just endangering and threatening each other. This week's increase in hostilities - leading to several shooting incidents and a suspected arson - raises the very real possibility an innocent person is going to get hurt.

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When people are shooting across a suburban road and setting homes alight it's surely only a matter of time. And when a mother and her two young children are hunkered down on the floor of their Rotorua home in the middle of the morning, as gunshots ring out in the street, that's not something we should accept in our town.

Police say hostilities have been simmering in the city since 2010, and they believe the events in Western Heights and Fordlands this week are connected to a development in tensions between two factions of the Black Power gang.

Police have increased their presence in both suburbs in an effort to prevent further violence and to reassure the public. But police can't be everywhere at once, so pressure also needs to come from within the community.