The family of a former gang member who had his photo used in a controversial new mobile game have labelled it hurtful and unfair.
Relatives of William Hurinui, whose portrait was used in the Mongrel Mob Defence game on Google Play, said despite his gang past he was not a bad person.
His niece spoke with the Herald and said she felt obliged to stick up for her uncle, who died in 2012, after his image was used without consent, attracting hurtful comments from users.
She has asked to remain unnamed due to receiving abusive mail following an earlier version of this story that named her.
"Not everyone cares about him because he was in one of the worst gangs in New Zealand, but he is still a person and is still someone's uncle and father.
"He has young children and they shouldn't have to see their father's photo blasted all over the internet."
The game, launched on Friday by developers, Supremacy, allows the player to pose as a Mongrel Mob member protecting his gang pad.
Initially gamers were presented with a caricature of Hurinui, who was a Mongrel Mob member known as Greeco Notorious, from the Notorious chapter in the South Island.
However, after the developers were faced with legal and physical threats they have replaced the portrait with one of actor Alf Stewart from Australian TV show Home and Away.
Hurinui's neice said she first saw the app posted on Facebook on Saturday. She said the accompanying comments were hurtful.
"What annoys me is they don't know who he was as a person. Yes he was in gangs, but he actually wasn't a bad person at all so it really upset me, especially because he has now passed away so it is even worse.
"The fact that someone used his photo without any of our consent, and put it in a game where he is being attacked, it's not fair."
She said the family had rallied together to make sure everyone knew about the distasteful game, and were trying to contact the app creator to have it removed.
Despite emailing the creator, the family had not received a reply.
"I don't know how else I am meant to go about it to get rid of it," she said.
The artist who took the original image of Greeco has also distanced himself from the app and any media coverage of it.
He asked the Herald not to be named and has contacted those behind the app to get the image taken down or legal action would be launched.
A spokesperson for the Supremacy development team contacted the Herald and said the app was updated on Sunday afternoon following the outcry.
"The application has just been updated to avoid legal action being taken against the development studio which sees the protagonist replaced with Alf Stewart from Home and Away and also to reduce the amount of abuse and threats we have been receiving," the spokesperson said.
"Some of the threats have been quite serious and the safety of our development team is our top priority."
The spokesperson said although the majority of users received the game quite well and saw the humour, a limited few didn't.
"The few that don't unfortunately have taken it to the extreme and have regularly been sending all kinds of verbal abuse, threats of violence and even threatening to take legal action if the game is not taken down.
"The game was intended as a comical time-waster and the app itself was developed over the previous week."
The spokesperson said the game would not be taken down permanently and the development team were working on a sequel, called Black Power Defence, which is expected to be released in the following weeks.
The Mongrel Mob Defence app is rated for players 12 years old and up and states that it includes moderate violence and mild swearing.
"Help your brothers by protecting the Mighty Mongrel Mob gang pad," the online game description read.
"The notorious Black Power gang are attacking and it is up to you to hold them off for as long as possible.
"Tap the left or right side of the screen to shoot the attacking Black Power members but be careful... they're armed with razor-sharp knives! Good luck!"
The caricature, orginially of Greeco - but now Alf Stewart, stands outside a dilapidated building which serves as the Mighty Mongrel Mob gang pad.
When the game begins, Black Power caricatures enter from the right and left of the screen. The aim of the game is to shoot the Black Power member before he gets close enough to stab the Mongrel Mob member.
If you are too slow, and the Black Power member gets close enough, he launches into a stabbing frenzy with blood splatters and swearing.