Twelve men have been arrested in relation to a gang clash on the streets of Whakatane, in which shots were fired and people scrambled for cover during a funeral procession.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Wilson of the Bay of Plenty Police said late this afternoon the men, all from Whakatane, had been arrested as a result of search warrants and the police investigation.

Charges laid following the January 17 incident include using a firearm against law enforcement officers, reckless discharge of a firearm, unlawful possession of firearms, participating in an organised criminal group and rioting.

"The antisocial behaviour of these individuals and the events of 17 January were dangerous and unacceptable, and because of them members of the public were put at risk."


A firearm and a quantity of ammunition were also found during the searches, which took place at four Whakatane properties this morning, Wilson said.

The investigation team were joined by Rotorua and Tauranga armed offenders' squad members and other police staff.

The investigation team had made significant progress with today's arrests, but police also wanted to assure the Whakatane community that they would continue to investigate "until all those identified are held to account for their behaviour", he said.

Police thanked those who came forward to help with the investigation.