More than 100 Mongrel Mob members are descending on Christchurch this weekend, and some of those travelling south posed for photos on the Cook Strait ferry.
The Mighty Mongrel Mob Barbarian MC – a motorcycle chapter offshoot of New Zealand's biggest gang – is holding a national hui in Christchurch this weekend.
Dozens of riders from around the country are already on the road to meet up in the Garden City, which has experienced a flare-up in gang violence in recent months.
Mongrel Mob members crossed the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry earlier today, and posed for photographs.
They were later spotted by members of the public, riding in convoy south on State Highway 1.
About 100 of the gang members and their associates are expected in Christchurch for the ride and meet.
The Herald understands they will then travel to other South Island centres early next week.
It is expected police will be monitoring their movements regularly.
Detective Senior Sergeant Brett Shields said police were aware of the "planned gang movement".
The hui comes after a double shooting in the North Canterbury town of Kaiapoi in the early hours of January 4, in which Fairmont Joseph Wiringi, son of Joseph Wiringi, the local Mongrel Mob president was shot.
The shootings happened just days after Head Hunters associate Kane Wayman was allegedly murdered after going to a Mongols MC New Year's Eve party at their Burnham headquarters.
Yesterday, the Herald reported that the Mongrel Mob gang is making a big push into Christchurch's underworld scene.
About 40 to 50 North Island members have moved south.
The Herald understands the gang is strengthening its numbers in the city, which has been rocked by a spate of gang-related violence this year.
It's understood many of those shifting down from the North Island are coming from around the Hawke's Bay region, where the underbelly organisation has a major foothold.
Some Mob members have already joined Christchurch chapters over the past few months, the Herald believes.
Gangs expert, sociologist and author of Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand Jarrod Gilbert said it was "incredibly rare" to have so many gang members migrate to a new centre permanently.
He described it as a "balance-changing move" which could upset the delicate gang eco-system in the city.
"When you upset that balance in the gang scene, it can lead to a very real threat of inter-gang violence," Gilbert said.
A 2019 New Zealand Police organised crime governance group insights report found the New Zealand adult gang population is "growing rapidly", and violent and drug-related crime is proportionally rising.
Mongrel Mob membership grew by 273 members (up 12 per cent) between August 2018 and June 2019, according to the police data. There were an estimated 548 gang members across all gangs in Canterbury in 2019. The Mongrel Mob was one of the most numerous across its many factions, which include Notorious, South Island, Aotearoa, Rogues, Barbarians, Fatherland, and others, not all of which coexist harmoniously.
Police said while gang membership was generally increasing around New Zealand, and was not an issue specific to Canterbury, it was "difficult to quantify due to its fluid nature".
"Unfortunately, gang offending is not an issue that police can solve alone," Shields said.
"It is a community issue that requires a multi-faceted approach because of the many factors at play."