One of New Zealand's top cops is standing alongside a former drug lord - to lead what they hope will be a 'game-changing' hui on methamphetamine.

Gang members, mothers, grandparents, children, addicts and former addicts gathered at Waiteti Marae in Ngongotaha.

Rotorua mother Kathleen Ngatai understands the struggle of addiction.

"I have been clean on my own for seven months, and then I thought I needed a little bit more, to dig a little bit deeper and see if there was any underlying issues. So I opted to go for residential care, it was something I had contemplated all through my using, when I did realise I needed help - but I didn't have the right opportunity to do so.

"Finally that presented itself a few months ago when the kids father came back into the picture, and I was able to get the care that I needed."

Ms Ngatai stood in front of nearly 200 people and read a letter from her teenage son, detailing his experiences of living with a mother who was addicted to methamphetamine.

"Although I knew my drugs were having an effect on him, I didn't realise just how deep the impact was."

Assistant Commissioner Wallace Haumaha says it's time to 'take the head off the snake.'

"We have to do whatever it takes to stop the head of the snake growing. This community made some clear commitments today, that they are standing right beside the police, and that they'll do whatever it takes to expose these people, and take away the supply chain that feeds these kids. Once they're hooked in the journey becomes very long."

Haumaha says the issue needs to be seen at a grassroots level by the community.

"This is a safe place for our children to grow up, knowing it's a place of learning, of their genealogy and whakapapa. No one has the right to bring this drug in, destroying their lives and also causing misery amongst the people."

He says it's an issue that affects all small communities in New Zealand - from Bluff to Te Aroha.

"I know where I sit, in Wellington, that this discussion is very important to us and to our Minister. She wants to see action in this area, and we are prepared to support her in this, to look at how we can develop solutions to these problems in small communities like this. "

Former Rotorua drug lord Billy Macfarlane says it is time to stand up to sellers and those earning profit from drugs and crime.

"This town, if anywhere in the world can make a change, this town can. This is a strong Maori community - many of them won't put up with any nonsense. I think we can enforce change here."

Mr Macfarlane was lured by the riches that comes with peddling drugs, but was soon sentenced to 14 years in jail.

"My young two-and-a-half year old son came to visit me in prison. He was unable to touch me because of the glass wall that divides visitors in maximum security. He was banging on the glass, crying for me. I went back to my cell and I cried for my kids, because I knew I wasn't going to be around my kids for a long time - I could see the pain I had caused them."

A community left ravaged by the devastating effects of methamphetamine, is fighting back in a bid to save lives.

Additional reporting by Annemarie Quill.

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