Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise has called for government support for her city to stem a tide of gang violence that she says is not sparked just by those with patches, but society as a whole.

Wise spoke passionately at a packed to the rafter Taradale Town Hall on Sunday, telling the crowd the whole community needed to be involved to fix the problem.

Speaking after meeting, Wise said "systemic failure" across generations had led to this moment.

The meeting was called in response to shots being fired into the fray during a brawl of 30 to 40 gang members in Taradale's CBD.


A 25-year-old man had injuries to his face, eye and torso caused by a pellet shot in the confrontation, while a shotgun pellet also hit a car seat which had a child strapped into it. The child was unharmed.

The 25-year-old man has appeared in court on firearms charges, but no further arrests have been made in relation to the incident.

"It is a societal issue. We are talking about generations of systemic failure, in terms of our community members," Wise told Hawke's Bay Today.

"For me as Mayor, that is what I want to bring to central government's attention. I want to say 'hey, we need help'.

"You need to actually start supporting us and our communities to find the answers and fix the problems that have been around for decades, if not hundreds of years.

"In Hawke's Bay we are perceived to be this affluent, wealthy region but we have got some really hard core underlying social issues that just aren't being recognised.

"And they are not being elevated to the level that they need to be so we can get the funding we need from central government, get the support we need."

More than 250 filled the town hall, queues forming early to get in. People spilled on to the footpath outside.


Minister of Police and local MP Stuart Nash, Area Commander Detective Senior Sergeant Martin James and Investigating Officer and Detective Inspector Mike Foster were among the speakers.

Nash also highlighted the importance of communities.

"Gangs have been in Hawke's Bay for 50 years," he said. "We have to have engagement from all groups from across our community.

"We are going to take their guns off them – believe me. It won't happen overnight, but I do think we will eventually get there."

Amongst the hundreds in attendance was a former gang member of more than 30 years, who called on the leaders to start a dialogue with the gangs themselves.

"To get positive outcomes you have to dial up with the leaders," he said. "You've got to make them inclusive instead of exclusive.

"I'm concerned about our people fighting each other. It hurts me very deeply because I am passionate about our Maori people.

"I don't like guns either. They give people a false sense of power."

Mike Foster said the police were "lucky" during the investigation of the incident, due to the CCTV footage supplied and confirmed police had made a further arrest in direct relation to the shooting, a 22-year-old Flaxmere man charged with unlawful assembly.

"The detectives all week have been dealing with the scene examination, trying to find witnesses and also trawling through dozens and dozens of hours of CCTV footage," he said.

"So far we have made two arrests – one today (Sunday). There is a whole heap more that we're aware. The delay is down to the identification of these people."

Martin James said the solution to the ongoing issues is "not all about police" and "must involve the community."

"This is critical. We need your support," he said. "By support, I am talking about information, not turning a blind eye and supporting police when they need it.

"There will be people in this audience that may be supporter their [the gangs] actions. I just ask you to question that."