I think gangs like Black Power and the Mongrel Mob are more a social nuisance, a scary visual image and an inordinate cost on the justice and health and social welfare systems, than a real danger to society. But they could be if we sit back and let them flourish.
In my first novel I had a chapter on a gang sub-titled "House of Angry Belonging". Youth and young men join a gang because they're hurt and angry and, like all humans, want to belong. Virtually all come from abusive childhoods.
But they're not the Italian mafia infiltrating every level of society and milking every public purse. New Zealand gangs have zero influence on government. About 4000 out of about 4.5 million is not a contagion.
They are boys in men's bodies with stunted and warped emotions whose only values are blind, unthinking loyalty to the gang. They're emotionally scarred and traumatised birds flocked together. With no moral standards as we know them; booze, drugs and violence stupefy any chance of self-reflection.
The vast majority are dunderheads, that much is obvious. Or why would one major gang bark, whimper, howl and growl like dogs if intelligence was present? Gang individuals act on pack impulse and/or peer pressure. We can presume that conversationally each and every one of these emotionally stunted galoots is vacuous.
The Mongrel Mob member who punched a school kid because he was wearing the colours of a rival gang does not see or feel life as we do. He is like a dog acting on command, being what his abused life reduced him to: a human beast.
These broken-hearted, constantly angry losers were made into what they are. They are not part of society and paid the unemployment benefit on economic grounds of at least reducing their criminal offending.
These people contribute nothing to society. Indeed, they extract disproportionately. Your columnist has a soft spot for those born into less blessed homes and difficult circumstances. But not for gang members, much as I understand their backgrounds. There's a line, boys, and you crossed it.
Any group that hunts in a pack and lives by violence is a menace. Whether Maori, Anglo-Saxon, Hispanic, Asian or European. They're a type, a category of childhood hurt and/or inherited outlook.
But in New Zealand we are uniquely positioned to perhaps do something about it. That is: attack at source the breeding grounds for these people. Ask any gang member how he grew up and he'll talk of a welfare-dependent mother who had lots of violent boyfriends, themselves welfare recipients.
Our country's disadvantage is, we reward losers; pay a weekly benefit to everyone from a gang member to a scoundrel acting out a chronic back problem.
If he had a father it was a violent one. A kid grows up surrounded by boozing, drug-taking adults, what do you think he's going to end up? A brain surgeon? A banker? A teacher? In business? Our country's disadvantage is, we reward losers; pay a weekly benefit to everyone from a gang member to a scoundrel acting out a chronic back problem.
A kid who grows up without any role models - other than their hard-pressed teachers at school - may as well have LOSER stamped on his forehead. Neglectful, abusive parent(s) should not be incentivised to stay that way.
Good parenting should be monetarily rewarded, at least until such incentives are no longer required. Single mothers who live with a boyfriend should not be punished by having her benefit reduced and treated like a criminal. The bloke rarely stays around long and the mother still has her children to raise.
This problem starts at the top: with Maori leadership leading by example. Maori problems are less a government problem than they do belong to us as a people. Most of our leadership is focused on lobbying Parliament - with hands out and giving little to the flaxroots.
We, Maoridom and the country, need people with service in mind not self-interest. Helping lift our people is not a career, it is a duty; at least for those in a position to help.
If we can halve the hard-core 15-20 per cent, the problems go down exponentially.
Keep hammering education. Already tertiary numbers for Maori have risen several hundred per cent the past 20 years. A few more Maori columnists to push the message out there would be good. The new "gangs" will have moral values and hunt as aspiring individuals not a vicious pack.
So come on, you caring Maori talkers, do some walking.