It was all over in a few minutes. Two people, 11 bullets.
Small-time drug dealer Abraham Tu'uheava was lying dead on the side of the road, shot in the head, arm and back.
His wife, Mele, was critically ill, two bullets lodged in her skull.
The pair had begged for their lives, but the three gunmen were having none of it.
"Nah," one said as, with a smirk, he pulled the trigger.
The execution-style murder in Mangere, South Auckland, two years ago signalled a dramatic escalation in gang violence - a ruthless illustration of what police predicted would follow the enforced deportation to New Zealand of members of some of Australia's bikie gangs.
The arrival of those disenfranchised gangsters has turned the New Zealand gang scene on its head, coinciding with what police describe as "uncontrolled growth" in existing local gangs.
Today, a Weekend Herald investigation can reveal:
• Police data shows gang members now number more than 7000 for the first time, up 50 per cent between December 2016 and December 2019.
• Australian motorcycle gangs, although a small fraction of the "501s" deported here, have a disproportionate influence because of their transnational organised crime links and sophisticated tradecraft, including use of encrypted phones.
• Their arrival has coincided with strong growth in all major New Zealand gangs with the Mongrel Mob still the largest by far with 2548 members, followed by Black Power (1590) and by the Head Hunters (441).
• Gang members in the Bay of Plenty increased by 15 per cent over 12 months to 1439, the most in the country. Seven other police districts experienced double-digit growth.
• Although the police are sceptical of the "pro-whanau" social movement of chapters such as the Waikato Mongrel Mob, their leader and New Zealand's leading gang researcher say government policy to address social inequity will be more effective than "tough on gang" political rhetoric.
"It's the perfect storm in some ways. In a crowded room, someone invariably gets elbowed. When that happens in the gang scene, an elbow tends to escalate," says Dr Jarrod Gilbert, who wrote Patched: A History of Gang Life in New Zealand.
"We've seen that before in the 1970s and 1980s. And we're seeing that now. The question is how far it goes."
Abraham Tu'uheava was murdered by Viliami Taani, a member of the Comanchero MC, and two other men.
The trio were given the "green light" for the execution because Tu'uheava was passing himself off as a "Commo" while selling methamphetamine in the South Island.
The motorcycle gang announced their arrival in New Zealand just a few months earlier, setting themselves up in New Zealand thanks to harsh changes to the immigration laws of our closest ally, Australia.
Just before Christmas 2014, the newly appointed Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, rushed through amendments to the Migration Act to impose a character test on visa applicants and non-citizens.
Visas were automatically cancelled if an individual failed the character test, written into law as section 501, because they had a substantial criminal record, defined as a sentence of imprisonment of 12 months or more.
Over the next five years, thousands of these so-called "501s", many of whom had lived their entire lives in Australia, were deported "home" to New Zealand where they often arrived penniless with no long-term accommodation, employment or even family to support them.
Many had mental health issues or drug and alcohol addictions, which when combined with anger about being separated from their lives in Australia, increased the risk of criminal or anti-social behaviour.
But among the 501s was a somewhat smaller subset that posed a much greater risk to New Zealand; Australian bikies who were targeted for deportation because of their senior positions within gangs.
Underworld figures and senior detectives were quick to anticipate how the arrival of brash Aussies, with reputations for shooting first and asking questions later, would radically disrupt the gang scene.
Pasilika Naufahu was among 14 Comancheros deported to New Zealand and appointed the president of the club's first chapter here.
In a sign of the times, the official announcement of the new chapter was made on social media in February 2018.
Photographs of six imposing men, including Naufahu, wearing tight Comanchero New Zealand T-shirts, hands clasped on wrists, were posted online.
Standing behind two customised, gold-plated Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the men had thick gold chains around their necks, designer sunglasses and expensive watches.
"All done and sworn in . . . welcome aboard to my brothers in New Zealand. Another Comanchero chapter opened up. We are growing stronger and stronger," the caption said, and went on to refer to the Australian politician who created the harsh deportation policy.
"F*** Peter Dutton. But you made this possible #lol."
It was quite a statement. And it came just days after "Mick" Hawi, the former national president of the Comancheros in Australia, was fatally gunned down in a Sydney gym car-park, by two masked men in broad daylight.
Hawi's violent death revived memories of the 2009 bikie wars and the Sydney airport brawl.
The possibility of similar violence in New Zealand, with innocent bystanders getting caught in the crossfire, was acknowledged by Detective Superintendent Greg Williams when he confirmed to the Herald on Sunday in February 2018 the Comancheros had formed a New Zealand chapter.
Williams, the head of the National Organised Crime Group, said his staff expected the gang would attempt to establish themselves in the New Zealand drug market.
"The reality of gang life, whether it's seen by the public or not, is one of violence. When dealing with the gangs, we're finding people with all sorts of firearms," Williams said at the time.
"And there is friction when gangs try to move into an established drug market. So there may be [violence] that comes out of this. To date, there hasn't been. It will be interesting to see what happens."
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• Oz Underbelly: Australian deportees behind 500kg meth bust
Less than two months later, Abraham Tu'uheava was dead.
In sentencing Taani to serve at least 17 ½ years of his life sentence in prison, Justice Hinton said the "execution-style killing" was brutal and callous, and it had been a miracle that Mele Tu'uheava survived.
"I was also struck . . . that there could not be a more tragic illustration than this case, of the true effects of gang membership and methamphetamine use."
Despite gangs, firearms and violence being nothing new in New Zealand, the ruthlessness of the Tu'uheava slaying over a perceived slight to the reputation of the Comancheros was seen as the Australian newcomers putting a stake in the ground.
So too was the semi-automatic weapon fired in a drive-by shooting of the Ellerslie pad of the Head Hunters, until very recently the undisputed heavyweight champions of the gang scene in Auckland.
It's believed the warning shots were related to a Head Hunter "patching over", or shifting allegiances, to the Comancheros.
Changing gang colours is frowned on in the criminal world, often paid for with a heavy price - physical and financial.
For someone to leave the feared Hunters, for a rival gang, is almost unheard of in living memory. For someone to send a message by spraying their Marua Rd fortress with gunfire is almost unthinkable.
Similarly, a tit-for-tat turf war erupted this year between the Tauranga chapter of the Mongrel Mob and the Mongol Nation, another Australian gang established by "501s".
The Mongols arrived in town last year; the first New Zealand chapter of an international motorcycle gang with a fearsome reputation for violence in the United States and Australia.
A barbershop linked to the Mongols was vandalised, then torched to the ground.
The retribution was swift.
A home linked to the Mongrel Mob was riddled with bullets fired from semi-automatic weapons, leaving nearly 100 empty bullet cases littered on the street outside. Five children were inside.
Just hours later, in the middle of the afternoon, shots were exchanged between members of the two groups.
Peace talks were arranged between JD Thacker, the Mongols president, and a senior leader of the Tauranga chapter of the Mongrel Mob. They sat down together on neutral ground, with police present, where the Mob aired their grievances.
Thacker interrupted to say "I don't give a f***", or words to that effect. Since then, tensions have eased in Tauranga although a Mongols-linked barbershop in Christchurch was also torched.
In an incredible power play, senior members of the "Quake City" Hells Angels (historically the bitter sworn enemies of the Mongols since they formed in California in 1969) patched over to join JD Thacker.
It's this brazen approach of the Australian gangs that has ruffled feathers in the New Zealand gang landscape, where there is respect shown - and even friendships - between rival gangs.
New Zealand had a long history of gangs warring with each other from the 1970s through to the 1990s, although the tit-for-tat violence largely eased as the rebellious young men with patches on their backs mellowed with age.
Older, wiser heads knew what gang war meant: constant pressure from the police and always looking over your shoulder.
As the metaphorical smoke cleared during the ceasefire, the various gangs were in a stalemate. Nobody could move as all the territory was roughly divided up.
As long as no one made an aggressive move into someone else's town or turf, the overt violence which made front-page headlines and energised politicians looking for votes in election year, remained in check.
Cynical detectives wryly noted the methamphetamine market, in which senior members of influential gangs soon became significant players, was so profitable, there was more than enough room for everyone.
It was smart business to get along, rather than attract unwanted attention. Surveillance jobs recorded members of rival gangs - the Hells Angels, Highway 61, the Head Hunters, Mongrel Mob, Black Power - visiting one another at home.
And this precarious state of peace has, by and large, been kept in place until relatively recently.
Even in comparatively small numbers, the arrival of the Australian gangs such as the Comancheros and the Mongols has without doubt changed the local gang landscape, sociologist Dr Jarrod Gilbert told the Weekend Herald.
"They are bold, a different culture, and seemingly not afraid of anybody. Without question, it's creating issues."
New Zealand gangs were "moribund" with dropping membership and methamphetamine addiction tearing them apart, said Gilbert, until the Rebels, Australia's largest motorcycle club, arrived around 2010 to "breathe new life" into the scene.
Chapters of the Rebels sprouted up like mushrooms around the country, as existing and members "patched over" to wear new colours, says Gilbert, an authority on New Zealand gangs.
Shortly after, the Bandidos and the Outlaws, two other international gangs, arrived to jostle for position. Gilbert described them as "New Zealand franchises", where existing local gang members switched allegiances to new colours.
This period of dramatic growth coincided with the advent of the "501" deportees. To take the global business analogy further, Gilbert says international groups like the Comancheros and Mongols "set up shop themselves", as opposed to the franchise model.
The perceived surge in gang numbers is backed by official data.
In answering Parliamentary questions from the National Party last October, Police Minister Stuart Nash revealed gang members had swelled by 1400 to 6500 in little under two years - a 26 per cent increase.
New data released to the Weekend Herald shows gang members now number 7027, as at December 2019, up 50 per cent since the same time three years ago.
This prompted National leader Simon Bridges to accuse the Government of being soft on gangs and promised his party would "crack down" on members if elected this year, including the establishment of a specialist police unit to target gangs similar to the "Strike Force Raptor" squad in New South Wales.
The dedicated team was set up in 2009 after a turf war between the Comancheros and Hells Angels exploded into a mass brawl at Sydney International Airport, leading to a gang associate being bashed to death with a metal bollard.
Following the public outcry, Strike Force Raptor took a "proactive approach" to making life difficult for any gang member. Nothing was too big or too small.
If someone was punched outside a Kings Cross nightclub by a gang member, a relatively low-level crime, which previously might have languished on a detective's desk somewhere, officers from Raptor rushed to take over the case.
If gang members didn't pay their traffic fines, Raptor would follow up to ensure their driving licences were taken away, or check gang clubhouses and use council rules to shut them down for shoddy workmanship or unconsented work.
If alcohol was being served at the pad, Raptor invoked archaic legislation so the gangs needed to have a liquor licence.
Raptor officers checked benefit payments and tax records, revealing hundreds of bikies claiming taxpayer assistance to which they weren't entitled.
"Our aim was to create a hostile environment. We came up with all sorts of tactics to disrupt their behaviour," said Detective Superintendent Deb Wallace, the officer-in-charge of Strike Force Raptor.
"And from those successes, we realised there were other opportunities."
Ironically, one of those opportunities was figuring out New Zealand-born gang members in Australia, such as Pasilika Naufahu, could be deported on good-character grounds.
If Bridges' hardline comments sound familiar, it's because Stuart Nash and Shane Jones, the New Zealand First MP, made very similar comments during the 2017 election campaign.
The pattern of Opposition MPs trying to win votes with a hard line on the gangs dates back to 1972, when Labour leader Norm Kirk vowed to "take the bikes off the bikies, followed by John Banks in the 1980s, then Mike Moore and Phil Goff in the 1990s.
"It's cyclical, uncreative and predictable," says Jarrod Gilbert. "It's always a call from the Opposition, as soon as they get into power nothing happens.
"It's good that nothing happens because it would not achieve anything. We don't want a Strike Force Raptor now, any more than we wanted the "commandos" John Banks wanted to bring in to deal with the gangs in the late 1980s
"Look at the history of the Australian police and tell me that's a model we want to follow. Bloody hell."
For his part, Bridges says his hardline on gangs comes from a genuinely held belief, not cynical politicking, cultivated from his time prosecuting crimes for the Crown in Tauranga.
"I think we need to harass and disrupt gangs every day, otherwise [the problems they create] will grow like a cancer."
One thing Bridges and Gilbert both agree on is that the police need to come down hard on any unacceptable behaviour by gang members, as the extra scrutiny helps quell spikes in violence and reassures the public.
But the gang researcher, who is also the director of criminal justice at the University of Canterbury, warns of the need to target poor behaviour, not harass an individual simply because they wear a patch.
Although there are countless examples of gang members involved in the drug trade, traditionally methamphetamine in New Zealand, all the experts agree organised crime is much wider than just gangs.
For nearly 20 years, Asian organised crime syndicates have dominated the importation of methamphetamine, or the ingredients to manufacture meth, and cultivated relationships with gang members to distribute on the ground.
More recently, Mexican and South American cartels have started smuggling methamphetamine, and increasing amounts of cocaine, to New Zealand because of the world-leading prices.
And even when individual gang members are heavily involved in drug distribution, their network normally includes a few other patched members or prospects, as well as those outside of the gang.
"That's the organised criminal group, that little cell, not the entire gang itself," says Gilbert.
"Some gang members are up to their neck in drugs, others don't deal at all. We've got to be careful to not judge the gang scene on the worst examples that hit the headlines."
To complicate matters further, Gilbert says the word "gang" is used to describe unorganised street gangs, so-called ethnic gangs like the Mongrel Mob and Black Power, which are large and predominantly Māori, as well as smaller motorcycle clubs like the Hells Angels.
Within each gang, Gilbert says there can be vast differences between different chapters, as well as individuals within each chapter.
"There are layers and layers of complexity, which just get lost in the knee-jerk commentary of 'all gangs are like the Comanchero," says Gilbert.
He says that although tough policing of gang violence or involvement in the drug trade is important, New Zealand must look beyond tackling gangs as a law and order issue and consider social and economic policy.
Working alongside gang chapters on areas they might be prepared to accept help, for examples family violence and drug or alcohol abuse, will help prevent some of the problems the police are later dealing with, says Gilbert.
"That means if the gangs are using less meth and not beating their wives and kids, they're going to school and eating properly. Even if we still have gangs, we've got better families, better neighbourhoods and a better society," says Gilbert.
"That's a win. Not a total victory but a small meaningful win. But it's more realistic than promising to smash the gangs, which is never going to work."
Gilbert pointed to the Waikato Mongrel Mob, or the Kingdom, as an example of a gang chapter that he believes is genuine in its desire to move in a positive direction.
Their leader Sonny Fatupaito, a Mongrel Mob member for 33 years, says his chapter walked away from the gang's national council two years ago to forge a new kaupapa (founding values), a move which undoubtedly created tension within the internal machinations of the wider gang.
This new kaupapa is one of empowerment, Fatupaito says.
The Mongrel Mob Kingdom made headlines for sending members to guard the local Hamilton mosque, following the deaths of 51 Muslim worshippers on March 15 last year, then the establishment of an all-female chapter.
Fatupaito reached out to the media in a bid to spread his message, giving interviews to reporters and sending an acerbic press release in response to Simon Bridges' announcement of "tough on gang" policy.
"I knew he wouldn't come," the gang leader said of the National Party leader publicly declining a private invitation to the gang's pad.
"And when he said he wouldn't come, I knew [the media] would."
He chuckled as he told this anecdote, while inviting the Weekend Herald to attend the gang's Mana Whānau day in November last year.
Sonny Fatupaito showed he knew how news organisations work as well as any politician.
In opening the Mana Whānau Day, where founding co-leaders of the Māori Party Sir Pita Sharples and Dame Tariana Turia were headline speakers, Fatupaito thanked those who "heeded the call" – the call against domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, addiction to drugs and alcohol.
When there's violence in the home, the eldest child often takes over caring for their siblings. These children now have adult problems. They start thinking thoughts they shouldn't have to think, suicidal thoughts," Fatupaito said.
"I'm tired of putting a hand of dirt on top of a box."
Although most of the public would be rightly sceptical, Fatupaito's press release addressing the "punitive" proposal of the National Party pointed out not every gang member was a criminal, and not every criminal was a gang member.
"Mr Bridges 'dog whistle' politics are great at playing on people's fears and anxieties but not so good at solving any problems. Bridges seeks to blame instead of seeking to understand," said Fatupaito.
"If any decent political party was serious about tackling gang issues, they would first tackle and eliminate poverty. We will continue to educate, empower and enable our whānau to lead more productive, constructive, positive and healthier lifestyles."
Gilbert, who attended the Mana Whānau Day in November, says the New Zealand gang scene has never seen anything like the Waikato Mongrel Mob.
He believes Sonny Fatupaito and his fellow leaders are genuine in their desire for change.
"I might be proven a fool here but I'm prepared to bet as we stand now - with the right to reserve changing my mind in the face of superior evidence - I have no doubt about that, whatsoever," says Gilbert.
"I don't think they're masterminding any nefarious PR strategy. However, does that mean among the hundreds of members, are there people dealing drugs? Of course there are."
Propaganda is exactly how the police view the Mongrel Mob Waikato's community outreach initiatives, according to a police intelligence report released under the Official Information Act.
"New Zealand Adult Gangs are expanding recruitment by promoting the 'glamour' of gang membership as well as an outward shift towards pro-whānau and pro-community outcomes," the July 2019 report says.
"Mongrel Mob Waikato continue to use their public relations machine to raise support, recruit and spread their clean image and pro-community intentions."
The report claims a spike in cocaine use is linked to the Waikato chapter, as well as the King Cobra, Bandidos and Tribesmen in other areas.
Fatupaito did not respond to an interview request, or written questions, supplied to the chapter's communications adviser Lou Hutchinson.
Nearly two years ago, Fatupaito was among the first to warn of the danger of the incoming Australian gangs and the potential for conflict.
The Mongrel Mob leader likened their arrival to a "modern-day land grab" and even mooted an alliance with long-standing enemy the Black Power to drive back the invaders.
The rivalry has since become intensely personal for Fatu. His brother and nephew, once staunch members of the Mongrel Mob, appear to have joined the Comancheros.
The Weekend Herald has obtained photographs posted on social media of Dwight Fatu and his son Sonny Fatu - named after his uncle - with Pasilika Naufahu, the national Comancheros president, and Jarome Fonua, the gang's treasurer.
One of the photos has Naufahu with his arms around the father-and-son duo with the caption "Waikato Chapter is next".
Just a few weeks after the photo was posted, Operation Nova halted the expansion plans.
Nearly the entire Comancheros hierarchy, including Pasilika Naufahu, were charged with money laundering or drug conspiracy offences.
The covert investigation by the National Organised Crime Group alleges the gang pulled the strings to import methamphetamine from Mexico, to live a life of luxury on the lucrative proceeds.
Most have denied the charges and are scheduled to stand trial in the High Court at Auckland in September.
An exception was Tyson Daniels, the 30-year-old vice-president of the Comancheros, who pleaded guilty to money laundering and participating in an organised criminal group.
Standing in the dock beside the tall and powerfully built Daniels was his lawyer, Andrew Simpson. They were chalk and cheese.
Tall, slender and bespectacled, Simpson also admitted laundering millions of dollars for the gang by funnelling payments through his trust account.
The use of a professional to structure trusts and hide money was proof of the growing sophistication of organised crime in New Zealand, which the police had warned about for years.
Found in Daniels' house was a Ciphr, an encrypted phone used solely for communicating with other Ciphr devices.
Such phones, which cost $2500 a year to use the encrypted software, thwart efforts to investigate organised crime as police are unable to intercept their communications.
And although Daniels faced no drug charges, the judge said he clearly knew the money he used to buy a fleet of expensive vehicles was from the profits of significant drug importation.
There were four Range Rovers - with price tags of $175,000, $255,000, $218,000 and $280,000 - a $200,000 Mercedes-Benz, a Lamborghini for $285,000, and two Rolls-Royces that cost $364,000 and $595,000.
"Your place in the Comancheros hierarchy means you were one of the directors of this serious offending, which exemplifies how organised criminal groups can obtain significant financial benefit from offending without putting directly themselves at risk," said Justice Gerard van Bohemen.
Daniels was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison, wearing a black and gold Versace top. It was the sort of thing a gangster of yesteryear would never have been seen in, but another example of how the underworld has changed.
And nothing says money laundering more than designer clothing in gang colours.