Community members coming forward and increased collaboration with police were key to Wairoa reducing escalating gang activity, its mayor says.
Wairoa mayor Craig Little said criminal and gang-related activity reached new levels in late 2019.
Things escalated when shots were fired at the Wairoa police station and at the home of one of its officers.
This led to him reaching out to Tairawhiti Area Commander Inspector Sam Aberahama.
"We've now gone from working in silos to working together. Wairoa is a much better place because of that."
Little said police numbers in the district had increased, and more regular meetings between police and various leaders allowed for more information to be shared.
The community also had a responsibility to report crime and give police an ability to do their job, he said.
"The biggest problem is not the [lack of] police it's the families protecting these criminals and not letting police know."
He said this was a source of frustration for many police, who knew that the drugs were out there but lacked the intel to act on it.
Fifteen arrests relating to violence, firearms and drugs offences earlier this year in Wairoa, demonstrated how policing had improved in the area, he said.
The arrests included members of the Mongrel Mob and Black Power and stemmed from recent gang conflict in Hawke's Bay.
Little said the gang conflict wasn't exclusive to the region and related to a changing scene with "gangs we've never seen before" coming into the country.
"I wouldn't call Napier an unsafe place."
He agreed the lack of cells in Napier reduced police resources and said he hoped they would come back.
Little said the biggest thing would be increasing police numbers but this wouldn't happen overnight.
He also praised the current government for their efforts in this.
"We are in a better place than we were 10 years ago. At the end of the day you need police."