In 2013 a bill was passed - The Prohibition of Gang Insignia Government Premises Bill.

It gave police the power to seize gang patches and official colours and offenders faced a $2000 fine.

On Saturday, the Mongrel Mob took over the carpark at Te Mata Peak for a few hours.

Police provided traffic control and issued some tickets while the gang carried out whatever the hell it was doing up there.


Up on the summit, they barked like dogs and someone shouted "sieg f***king heil".

There was an impassioned plea to honour the gang's patch, "pray to it if you want to" or words to that effect.
Restricted numbers of bewildered visitors came and went.

God knows what anyone who didn't use the road and took a track route to the summit thought - imagine emerging into a carpark full of gang members.

As for the Prohibition of Gang Insignia Government Premises Bill - what a joke. It was introduced by National. Labour were tepidly lukewarm on it.

At the time, Acting Assistant Commissioner Glenn Dunbier said police believed gangs would fear having their insignia seized and destroyed, and this would create "the greatest incentive for gang members not to break this new law''.

Frontline police must have fallen about laughing at the time.

Gang members were not quaking in their boots then, and they certainly weren't on Saturday, at the prospect of losing their patches.

Hastings Mongrel Mob leader Rex Timu told Hawke's Bay Today this week that the ceremonies have been held at "Rongokako" for more than 20 years.


However, they are usually held at night when few people are around.

The high volume of attendees caught Timu out, he didn't realise so many people were turning up.

The event was timed for a Saturday, as there were members who had to get to work later in the day. Lots of them are hard workers, Timu reckoned.

Lots of family also turned up on Saturday.

Hang on, are we talking about a patched gang gathering here?

It's not a community meeting at the local town hall, where too many people turned up and the cheese scones ran out.

Timu normalises the gathering as if "what's the big deal'.

And it's that normalisation that the rest of us should fear.

There's a town up the road from here - and quite a way up the road - where a local community board politician was asked about whether he was concerned a local gang had ingratiated itself into the locals' good books with charity motorcycle runs and the like.

The politician reckoned they were good blokes and deserved to be treated like everyone else. The gang was a lot smarter than he was.

Timu also lamented one other point - that many people can't get over the old, negative images of gangs.

It was tough when detractors wouldn't give people a second chance, he said.

The problem is, Saturday's gathering wasn't a picnic, and did nothing to make detractors change their minds.

The gang's behaviour was anti-social and intimidating - Te Mata Peak is known for magnificent views, but the only view of Hawke's Bay presented to visitors on Saturday was an unpleasant one.

Until they stop barking like dogs, and shouting "sieg f***king heil", no one is going to cast aside those negative images, and give them a chance.