The Mongrel Mob branch that is starting a women's chapter says the women won't wear back patches.
Waikato Mongrel Mob Kingdom president Sonny Fatupaito has issued a press release saying: "Our wāhine to my knowledge have not asked for back patches but for T-shirts and side patches, so they will not be wearing back patches at this point." A rival Porirua-based Mongrel Mob leader, Dennis Makalio, earlier told Radio New Zealand that women had no right to wear the patch.
The split has revealed the different paths being taken by the Waikato Kingdom, which split from the national Mongrel Mob two years ago, and the rest of the movement.
Fatupaito's Hamilton-based "Kingdom" has held "Hearty Hauora" health events, helped the police to hunt for people who abducted a Hamilton schoolgirl in 2016, and guarded local mosques after the Christchurch mosque attacks in March.
Former teacher Paula Ormsby, who now works for educational consultancy 361education and is fronting the push for a women's chapter of the Mob, said she had already been consulted by Fatupaito and the other Kingdom leaders.
"When there is a leadership decision to be made, it's run past me already," she said.
She said the planned women's chapter was not about the patch but about giving women a voice within the gang.
"I never once quoted [wearing] full gang regalia. What's happened is that people have made an assumption," she said.
"We never wanted to take the look on that our men have got, that was never our intention. We can choose to look uniquely different.
"We are not having a patch as such. There will be a side patch but it won't be a full back patch."
Ormsby said that would not give the women a lower status than men in the gang.
"It is in no way any lower than our men. In fact it couldn't be any more opposed to that," she said.
"This is around bringing these women out of oppression and giving them the respect and the recognition that they deserve."
Fatupaito said women, like male gang prospects, had to earn the patch, but when asked whether women might wear the patch in the future, he said: "Anything is possible."
"We are evolving," he said. "We have to make changes. Life doesn't wait around for anything. If you don't make changes, you're going to be left behind. It's like what you have with some of the Mob chapters around the country - they are living in a time warp."
He said the Waikato Kingdom wanted the same as everyone else.
"We do what anybody else is doing in the real world - looking after our families properly, being able to be happy and live our lives free, and to be able to contribute to society," he said.
In his press release, he said: "The Mongrel Mob has always been predominantly male, patriarchal, hyper masculine but with the thought of birthing a women's chapter it has challenged the very core of its foundations and misogynist views across the board.
"To the Waikato Kingdom, recognising their women is nothing new. The Mongrel Mob Kingdom has been holding Mana Wāhine events since 2016, empowering women and children, giving them a forum for their stories to be told and acknowledging their place in the Kingdom.
"We have given them this space because uplifting women is paramount in their journey as Mana Wāhine, as it reasserts their status and position in our nation, families and communities."
He said people were "overlooking the real issue here, inequality".
"It's not about the patch, it's about putting the women on an equal level that makes people so uncomfortable," he said.
"Decreasing socialism to increase professionalism, Mongrels should worry more about developing their own Kingdom for the greater good of their bottom rocker, instead of either jumping to conclusions or misinterpreting the message of what other dogs or media are doing in their own backyards.
"The subliminal word that the media used was 'chapter'. 'Chapter' was the only thing that the article mentioned that gave the impression to Mongrels and community alike that our wāhine were going to walk around with back patches.
"And now that we know the truth, great leaders break new ground, why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
"How can you say to your brother, 'Brother let me take the pīkaru out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the pīkaru from your brother's eye."