Hostilities that erupted between Black Power and Mongrel Mob gang members in Whakatāne were sparked by a patch being taken from a member of one of Black Power's affiliate chapters.

The jury trying five Black Power members in the High Court at Rotorua on charges stemming from the January 17, 2017 showdown between the rival factions was reminded of this by Crown prosecutor Richard Jenson while summing up the trial today.

He traced the animosity between the gangs back to the Friday the 13th patch snatch which occurred when Tahu Kingi's body was taken to a Whakatāne funeral home.

Kingi was a senior Kawerau Mongrel Mob member and bringing him to Whakatāne was seen as crossing the barrier into Black Power territory, something that caused animosity on both sides.


The events the jury was dealing with related to Kingi's subsequent funeral procession as it wound towards Whakatāne's crematorium, with at least 150 Mongrel Mob members and associates from across the country in convoy behind the vehicle carrying his body.

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

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

Other charges the defendants faced were 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 had also been dismissed but remained against Taitapanui and Tarau.

Taking the jury through the charges relating to each defendant video footage shot by bystanders and a police officer was replayed to remind the five men and seven women of the roles each defendant was accused of playing.

Jenson told them there could be no doubt from the footage Taipete was the shooter, firing shots at the Mongrel Mob cortege halted at the intersection of Arawa and Valley Rds.

This followed missiles being thrown at advancing Mongrel Mobsters from an Arawa Rd service lane.


He said Tawhai had given Taipete active support. "He was being provocative, not fluffing up his feathers in a boys-will-be-boys way, he was giving gang signals of encouragement," the prosecutor claimed.

He reiterated evidence that it was Tawhai who had advanced on a man known only as Witness B angrily demanding he stop filming the confrontation and delete footage already shot.

Referring to Biddle, he said his police interview had been cagey, far from full and frank.

"He knows how these confrontations with the Mongrel Mob go and the risk of serious injury from them . . . he taunted the procession calling them pussies, you may well consider he was one of the older ones directing the younger ones what to do," he suggested.

Summing up the actions of the remaining defendants, he said it defied belief they knew nothing about the firearms being carried, accusing them of aiding and encouraged them to be fired.

They had taunted their rivals and given self-serving versions of event in police interviews.

However, he allowed that Taitapanui had given a more frank interview acknowledging he knew he was walking into an armed confrontation and was standing next to Taipere when the shots were fired.

Encapsulating the charges, Jenson contended all defendants took part in the riot and in the organised criminal group charges because they shared the common objective to wound the Mongrel Mob and that Taitapanui and Tarua were guilty of unlawfully possessing firearms.

On the count of shooting at police he argued each man knew officers were present.

On the fifth count it was clear firearms had been used without thought for the safety of others in the vicinity, watching members of the public included.

"At the end of the day you must consider all the evidence, you might consider from the footage you have seen each is guilty of all the charges they face," Jenson urged.

Defence lawyers are to argue on their clients' behalf tomorrow.