Shootings the talk of former coal mining town

By editor, Craig Cooper -
5 comments
Five people with gang affiliations were shot in Kamo, north of Whangarei, on Wednesday night.
Five people with gang affiliations were shot in Kamo, north of Whangarei, on Wednesday night.

Kamo - population roughly 7000.

Not that long ago, the most risk you were at in this wee town was falling down an old coal mine.

I grew up there, went to school there, and live just down the road.

It's a town famous for being the home of the Kamo Kid - former All Black and now Sky rugby commentator Ian Jones. Plus Black Sticks like Stacey Michelson.

And not much else. Which doesn't mean it isn't a fine place to live - it is.

It's a town that in less than five minutes drive you're in million dollar home territory with rolling paddocks and stone walls. Or pockets of state home poverty.

Pretty much middle New Zealand, regionally anyway.

It's also a town where five people were shot on Wednesday night.

Most school days, my son walks along Clark Rd where the shooting was.

Most of the homes are 1960s weatherboards, occupied mostly by long term residents.

Big sections though, some have been subdivided and new homes have sprung up.

The "shooting home" was a rental - neighbours say it was a rowdy rental.

Burnouts in the street, people coming and going at odd hours. One neighbour heard the shots and figured it was just some sort of noisy commotion.

Another had someone in her garden screaming "help me" - her reaction was different,

There have been two other shootings in or near Whangarei in the past 6 months.

Patched Tribesman John Henry Harris, 37, known as John Boy, died after being shot in the chest, north of Whangarei last October.

Two weeks before that Moses Noor Mahanga, 25, a member of the Head Hunter gang, was fatally shot in Otangarei.

These were single victim incidents - they are not linked, according to police, other than they are both "gang related".

Police have made an arrest over Moses Mahanga's death.
They are still looking for who killed John Henry Harris.

What's different about this week's shootings though are the number of victims - five.
And the fact they survived, of course.

They are under police guard in hospital - we understand that one person involved in the shooting is still being sought.

People joke that as long as people with gang affiliations are shooting each other, that's fine.

But someone innocent could get hurt - and we care that this sort of violence is present in our community. And that criminal activity is driving it.

It is not generally the sort of behaviour associated with Kamo, although people with gang connections have been linked to commercial property in the nearby village.

The shootings will be the talk of Kamo for a while.

But it won't change the locals' view of their tight wee town.

It's survived a bypass being built around it, its supermarket burned down in 1995 - this isn't going to bother the locals too much.

My son will still walk along Clark Rd during the day- it's a safe town in that respect.

But people will be taking extra care, and looking over their shoulders, especially at night. With five people shot, you'd be silly not to.

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