When is a gang problem not a gang problem? Perhaps this is a Zen riddle.

What is the sound of one hand not knowing what the other is up to?

Or, if five people get shot by gang members in a forest, which closely follows two shot by gangsters and half a tonne of illegal drugs washing up on a beach and no one cares - did it happen? Like Mr Shane Reti, our Whangarei electorate representative, I don't think so.

It's a family thing.


Around my kitchen table I'm allowed to say whatever I like about the realities of my family but you'll never catch me saying anything in public.

If you ask everything will always be fine but then I'm not their representative and I'm not asking for any help for their life-threatening addictions.

But perhaps our MP needs to rethink his role. If it's a PR job then he's right to shut down debate on whether or not Northland has a drug and gang issue by using the "everyone else is doing it" defence. But in politics - like parenting - that does not wash.

I'm not responsible for other people's children, and I live here and therefore live with the consequences of whether or not there is a drug and gang issue in my hood.

We have political representation to advocate for outcomes that will make our community happier and healthier, not tell us happy fairytales.

Whether or not there is a gang issue is almost entirely irrelevant anyway.

What we do have is a drug problem.

Where there is a drug issue there will always be the big easy and corrosive money that attracts gangs.


There is no intrinsic problem with the honey industry, yet the problems with poisonings etc. have come with increased gang involvement in the business.

If nothing else, honey would be a great business to launder drug money.

So, if we have a drug problem, we ipso facto have a gang problem and the violence and stupidity that is bound to come with that.

We also have a youth unemployment and an alternative education, or lack of it, problem in Whangarei.

The case of Evanda Harding - labelled in this paper as a "puppet" for his father - jailed for nearly 10 years as a 17-year-old, as a result of taking orders from the two generations who preceded him, is a case in point.

Should the young Mr Harding have been born into a family that owned large corporations, he would be groomed as a future CEO and be well versed in the lore of mergers and take-overs ready to take over the family business.

Instead he and his considerable gifts are literally wasted. For 10 years. And we're all paying for that.

If you think there is no drug and gang problem in Northland, you haven't been talking to police, teachers, health workers, social workers, forestry workers, local contractors, prison warders or rental owners. So Mr Reti, you seriously need to get out more.