Claims South Auckland youth gangs are using family members and cousins to establish gangs in Northland has prompted a warning against complacency for community leaders.
A former deputy principal at a troubled Auckland school said he has heard from his former students that youth gangs, such as the Bloods and the Crips, were setting their sights on Whangarei.
Patrick Walsh said the South Auckland gangs were using other young family members living in the city to set up more youth gangs.
Northland-based Labour list MP Shane Jones responded by saying civic leaders should be up in arms and should not become complacent. He urged members of the public to make a stand and block the gang strategists, go to police and not to be fearful of gang retribution.
"Leaders need to make it hard for gang recruiters to get entrenched. They need to expose the gang strategists before they infect our young people."
During the mid 1990s, when Mr Walsh was teaching in South Auckland at De La Salle College, there was talk about youth gangs, but the police and the local council were "complacent". "They realised too late and by then the youth gangs had a good strong hold and it became too hard to correct."
Mr Walsh said tagging increased in Mangere during that time.
"Youth gangs use taggings to indicate the territory that belongs to them. You end up having turf wars between gangs."
Mr Jones shared the same thoughts on graffiti.
"Tagging is offensive and frustrating for average Kiwi families and has all the hallmarks of early gang culture which in turn creates fear in communities."
He said the proliferation of youth gang recruitment in Northland was a great concern. South Auckland gang The Killer Beez has moved in to Kaikohe after starting life on the streets of Otara as a feeder to the Tribesmen gang, which also has a presence in Kaikohe.
He said the mid-North had become a recruiting ground for gangs as undesirables flock to the region to visit inmates at Ngawha Prison.
Northland police crime manager Inspector Mike Pannett said he had not noticed any more youth gangs than usual.
A joint project between police and numerous community organisations was established last year to prevent young people heading into youth gangs. Research done late last year showed there were about 40 "groups" in Whangarei, some of which were youth gangs.