The mayor of Hastings is calling for a ban on gang patches in cemeteries, after headstones were damaged during a Mongrel Mob tangi, but a leading gang expert says that is not the solution.
During a tangi on August 22 for Taylor-Jade Hira, attended by around 200 members of the Mongrel Mob, three gravestones were damaged.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said currently patches are banned in the crematorium, as it a publically owned, and she wanted to see whether this could be extended to the cemetery grounds.
"Cemeteries are certainly a place of respect, for our community to be able to visit their loved ones," she told Hawke's Bay Today.
"What this recent event has shown is that, there wasn't the respect that was needed.
"It's just so important that all our community can access their loved ones when they wish to, and for everybody to be respectful of each other."
New Zealand's leading gang expert, Jarrod Gilbert, a senior lecturer at Canterbury University, said it is the behaviour, not the clothing, which needs to be policed.
"Damage at a cemetery is despicable, and if that occurred we ought to hold people to account for that of course," he told Hawke's Bay Today.
"But I am not entirely sure how removing gang patches would have prevented it."
He said if a group of people wearing jeans caused damage at a cemetery, the next step would not be to ban jeans.
"We run the risk here of conflating two issues, the behaviour of people with what they are wearing.
"All around the world, there are problems with gangs, only in New Zealand do our street gangs wear back patches.
"If all around the world, they don't wear gang patches, and they still have the same problem, I'm not entirely sure how removing them here will change that.
"It's a simple solution to a complex problem."
He said if people are behaving poorly, that needs to be policed.
"The behaviour won't change whether a patch is being worn or not."
A Hastings District Council spokesperson said new signage is being created for cemeteries in the district, to remind people to behave with dignity and respect for grieving families.
"The council expects users of our facilities to have respect for others at all times.
"The council is looking at ways of getting improved information ahead of funerals so we can take measures to manage particularly large gatherings."
Hazlehurst said she would also be looking to create bylaw to ban alcohol for cemeteries.
She said the council had also meet with police over the situation on August 22.