A funeral procession for a gang member which saw part of a major road cordoned off by police was another example of gangs becoming more emboldened, National Party police spokesman Simeon Brown says.
Three hundred people, including many gang members, gathered in and outside St Joseph's Catholic Church in the central Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn today for the funeral of Head Hunters gang member Taranaki "Ardie" Fuimaono. The 43-year-old died shortly after being taken into police custody almost a week ago.
As the procession began dozens of gang members on motorcycles could be seen doing burnouts outside St Joseph's, with clouds of smoke drifting across Great North Rd, a major arterial route in Auckland.
Temporary cordons were put in place on Great North Rd between Williamson Ave and Coleridge St, as well as Crummer Rd and Coleridge St, to manage traffic congestion in the area, police said in a statement.
"Police want to reassure the community that these cordons are a precaution to ensure the safety of all motorists travelling around the area."
No other action has been required by police.
But Brown told Newstalk ZB road closures sent a message to the public that what mattered was "the gangs being able to do what they want regardless of what the law says".
"Everyone has a right to a funeral and to honour their dead but the reality is when streets start being closed and that starts affecting other people's rights to go about their daily business that's something of very serious concern ... people need to follow the law.
"I have very serious concerns about the increase in gang numbers and the fact they're becoming more emboldened and what we're seeing here today is gangs become more emboldened and pushing the boundaries."
Act Party justice spokeswoman Nicole McKee also took aim at the temporary road closure.
"Why are police shutting down streets, stopping Kiwis going about their everyday lives instead of moving an intimidating gang procession along?
"It's time we stop pandering to these intimidating gang members, arrest them when they break the law and tell them to get out of the way of law-abiding Kiwis going about their business."