I have lived in Whanganui on and off for the past seven or more years.

It seems a pretty peaceable place.

I may have seen the odd gang member out and about, but don't recall doing so -- and quite possibly I wouldn't have been aware of their associations.

The point is that for the vast majority of us, any criminal underworld is so far off the radar that it might be another country.


Read more: Police raid Whanganui suburb where Kevin Ratana was shot dead
Man dead in Whanganui shooting, gang members seen fleeing
Multiple people arrested in Whanganui as police raid homes after gang killing last week
Castlecliff resident concerned shooting could lead to turf war

Sure, there are no doubt nefarious goings-on, but they don't impinge on ordinary folk nor ruffle the charms of living in the River City.

We get boy racers, drink-drivers, petty theft and more domestic violence than we would care for, but I can only think of Whanganui as a calm, quiet and safe haven.

The "gang town" tag that stigmatised the city some years back just doesn't add up for most of us.

Then someone gets shot and, for a brief spell, it's all about the gangs.

The death of Kevin Ratana last week, a man with Mongrel Mob affiliations, was a tragedy for his family and a blot on Whanganui. The pain for whanau will last a long time; the blot is only temporary.

We are grateful for the swift police action -- the extra numbers of officers, and high-profile visibility sent a strong message that they were determined to keep a lid on any potential mayhem.

The arrests this week are also reassuring.


The extended police presence will remain a while longer and, hopefully, that will be it.

Of course, we can't know what is around the corner and it is likely that, at some time in the future, there will be another incident. At least the sporadic flashpoints are largely internecine and, for most of us, life will roll on comparatively undisturbed.

I was struck by the comment of Inspector Mark Harrison, a Whanganui old boy in charge of the police operation.

He pointed out his mother had lived in the city for 80-odd years "and probably never seen a gang member in her life".