Ex-gang leader's claim

By Merania Karauria

"Chopper" says he's been on death row for 16 years "trying to get rid of himself".

The former Black Power president of the Wellington chapter now lives in Wanganui where he is finally taking charge of himself and his health.

He says he now has the strength to address the things that led him to the brink and prompted him to try taking his own life.

He moved to Wanganui for a quieter life and hoped to find work.

The one issue still bugging him is the two years he was on remand in custody accused of rape, before the charges were dropped.

He wants justice, he says, and is bringing a claim to the Police Complaints Authority for wrongful arrest.

"Chopper" says he "went through hell" and claims the rape charge and two years in jail are what made him ill and led him to make several attempts to take his life.

He was on methadone for many years, but managed to get off the medication, and now maintains his sobriety through Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

In his younger days he went toe-to-toe with the police, but that's in the past - he's 56 now and sees things differently, though he is still with Black Power.

He got into the gang because that is what was happening in the cities in the 1970s.

"It was a whanau - all came in to work in the city and we formed there. We were all different Maori from all over and we carried on as whanau ... it's what you usually did. We protected each other."


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