Rotorua Mongrel Mob members sick of young offenders being dubbed gang wannabes say times have changed and the gang is firmly focused on family.
One gang member and his family say they want police and the community to give youngsters a break.
Police say youngsters wearing red or blue bandannas are gang wannabes - the colour red is associated with the Mongrel Mob and blue with Black Power.
A Mongrel Mob member who spoke to the Daily Post says although he has been involved in crime and served time in jail, his house is a safe place for his five children and other young people.
He and his wife, who want only to be identified as Koro G and Nani Mu, say people should know them before judging them.
They are angry that young people wearing coloured bandannas and committing crimes are being identified by police as gang prospects. They said the Mongrel Mob did not recruit children.
Their own children, who had grown up associated with the Mongrel Mob, were productive members of society and doing well. Their youngest daughter was achieving academically and older children were married with children of their own, the couple said.
Koro G said there was no way the Mob would encourage young people to join its ranks.
"It's just not something we do."
There were adults in the general community who sent young people to commit burglaries and other crime on the pretext of being patched, but they were not affiliated with the Mob.
"I've told them this isn't right and it's not to happen. They are only kids and there is no way we are going to patch a child," he said.
Nani Mu said in recent years the Mongrel Mob had changed its focus towards "whanau".
"It's about a lifestyle not crime ... wives and children come first always. We are only trying to do the best we can do and clamping down on the kids because we have had a gutsful of all the trouble."
She said many young people who got into trouble were searching for a place to fit in but society was failing them, especially on the east side of Rotorua where there was little for them to do.
"They have banned them wearing red at high school. Give them a break.
"Not all these kids are bad but the police treat them all the same. They are just trying to find a place for themselves, trying to be tough."
It was time for Rotorua to stop labelling and blaming and instead work with teens and provide places for them to let off steam.
"Te Arawa has just got a whole lot of money and most of these kids are Maori so why don't they develop a community centre or a place these kids want to be at? I'd help out."
Rotorua police Detective Sergeant John Wilson said young people who wore colours generally wore them because they identified with whatever it represented.
"It's pure conjecture but it only stands to reason they wear them to be associated. Why else would they wear gang colours?"