Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

School backs ban on gang regalia

Photo / Hawke's Bay Today
Photo / Hawke's Bay Today

A new school in one of the poorest parts of New Zealand wants government help to keep gangs outside its gates.

Murupara Area School told a parliamentary select committee gang tensions and the wearing of insignia on school grounds disrupted learning and encouraged a culture of bullying.

The committee is hearing submissions on a bill that would ban gang insignia on government-owned premises such as Work and Income offices and state schools.

Murupara Primary School - which will next year combine with a high school to become Murupara Area School - has demanded gang patches be "checked in at the gate" and not worn by parents on school trips.

Establishment Board of Trustees chairman Jacob Te Kurapa said school staff could not use up energy stamping out gang activity, and welcomed a change in the law.

"Gang patches heighten the tensions between the two gangs [Mongrel Mob and Tribesmen]. If we have that in our school, that encourages bullying between the children.

It encourages a passive type of recruitment in our schools."

The Murupara community took a stand against these groups after two gang-related killings of teenagers in 2009.

It has placed a rahui, or ban, on gang patches, bandannas and colours on marae, and also inside some public places such as shops.

Mr Te Kurapa said these community-led changes had been successful in lessening the influence of gangs, but law changes were needed.

While the school urged MPs to push the bill through, a lawyer for gang members said the legislation was misguided and could accidentally capture members of the public who were innocently wearing gang colours.

- NZ Herald

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