The trial of a group of Black Power gang members facing charges relating to a confrontation with Mongrel Mob adversaries during a funeral procession at Whakatāne 18 months ago has reached its closing stages in the High Court at Rotorua.

On trial are Benjamin Biddle, Whitu Taipete, Codie Taitapanui, Te Reneti Tarau and Taumata Tawhai.

A sixth defendant, Stalone Harawera, has been discharged after Justice Graham Lang ruled there was insufficient evidence to sustain the charges against him.

Other charges the defendants face are rioting, participating in an organised criminal group, using a firearm against law enforcement officers and recklessly discharging firearms.


Charges of unlawful possession of a firearm against Biddle, Taipete and Tawhai have also been dismissed but remain against Taitapanui and Tarau

Lawyers for the five defendants who remain on trial indicated this morning their clients would not be giving or calling evidence.

Crown prosecutor Richard Jenson has begun his opening argument which is expected to take all morning.

The trial, which was set down for six weeks when it opened on June 25, has moved quicker than anticipated.