Police Minister Paula Bennett says a new Tauranga-based task force will tackle the "concerning" supply of methamphetamine coming into the region.

The Deputy Prime Minister was in Tauranga today to speak with police about a specialised police task force expected to be set up in mid-2018.

The Tauranga-based unit is expected to help combat national and international links to organised crime.

Ms Bennett said the task force would focus on the organised crime involving the supply of methamphetamine coming into the region.


"There are concerns with the supply of meth coming into the region," she said. "We do not want to sit back and wait for that to become a bigger problem."

She said there would be a focus on the seizure of assets through the task force.

"We have a higher percentage of assets being seized, and we will be focusing on that in Tauranga as well."

Police Assistant Commissioner Wally Haumaha said this year that criminal networks were peddling P "like lollies" at the Port of Tauranga.

Ms Bennett said she would like to explore the issue further, but did want to single out just one port. "It is happening in all of our ports in New Zealand.

"It is because we pay an incredibly high price for it compared to other countries, so we are a fantastic target."

She said there were also concerns there was an increased gang presence in the Bay.

Ms Bennett said an increase in the presence of Australian deportees were directly linked to higher crime rates in New Zealand.

"We have seen an increase because of them being here," she said. "Fortunately many of them have not come back to New Zealand and are living a crime-free life.

"We have been catching them, and we have our eyes on them, but they certainly are having an influence."

Ms Bennett also spoke with Senior Constable Lindsay Smith, also known as "Red", about the support group he set up to help Bay families cope with a loved one with a P addiction.

She said there was a "real place" for community-led initiatives involving education around P. "In many aspects, it is helping families identify family members earlier."

"You do not get to be jaw-clenching acne-ridden psychotic within a few months; it can often take years for some of those who are P-addicted.

"If we can help people identify the symptoms earlier they may not see their loved ones cascading into that level of addiction and dysfunction."

"He [Red] does it because that is part of the work that he loves and cares passionately about. The fact he is an officer just gives strength to it. I fully commend and value him for what he is doing."

The taskforce will be created under the Safer Communities investment package.

In the first year, six investigators will be assigned to the unit, which will bring the taskforce to a total of 10.

In April this year, Ms Bennett announced an extra 69 police would be allocated to the Bay over the next four years as part of the Safer Communities investment package.

"You have about 660, so that is more than a 10 per cent increase coming in to this area.

She said extra police would ease the pressure for other officers.

"We will see more of a police presence, but equally with that organised crime task force, I am hoping they will see a drop in crime.

During her visit the Deputy Prime Minister also met about 40 local businesswomen and gave a speech to Tourism Bay of Plenty.


- The Bay will get 69 officers over the next four years
- The first year has been allocated with 15 officers

That includes:
•3 new child protection team positions, 2 in Rotorua and 1 in Tokoroa
•3 new constables at Opotiki
•3 new Tactical Crime Unit (TCU) constables in Western Bay of Plenty
•3 new constables for TCU in Rotorua
•1 new sergeant and 2 constables for TCU in Taupo