A Whanganui resident who lives near the property where a man was shot dead yesterday says he fears a full-blown gang turf war.

Tensions between gangs have been simmering for months with younger Mongrel Mob members trying to encroach on traditional rival gang Black Power's territory, he says.

But both acting Mayor Jenny Duncan and police inspector Ross McKay say the public is in no danger and police have adequate numbers of staff to deal with any escalation.

Kevin Ratana, 27, was shot dead on Puriri St yesterday morning.


A man who lives close by and didn't want to be named said tension had been building up leading to the shooting and it was likely to get worse.

"It's been going on for the last month I suppose. Getting really serious. These gangs are just getting bad now," he said.

"The [Mongrel] Mob are sort of trying to take over this turf, but it's been Black Power turf since day one. Castlecliff's always been Black Power.

"You've got these mobsters [Mongrel Mob] coming in ... they're just trying to take over this turf. This [the shooting] is the result. It would be the same if Black Power went over to Wanganui East or something, trying to invade that turf."

The man said Ratana had been staying in a Castlecliff house and had been deliberately trying to provoke Black Power members.

"That guy that got shot down here, he was staying down here. He was going around rarking up the hood anyway.

"He wasn't really undercover doing it, he was proud and loud and 'sieg heil' this and that and going down streets where Black Power patched members stay and letting off his gun and all that. Him and a couple other boys, a couple of them from out of town.

"He was trying to start something. He was trying to bring in other members. Other out of townies to try and take over Castlecliff. Trying to start something. [He] thought he was going to get somewhere ... taking advantage of the less [Black Power] patched members around."


The resident was concerned Mongrel Mob members would now retaliate and innocent bystanders would get caught in the crossfire.

He said it was up to police to make sure that didn't happen.

Puriri Street in Castlecliff was still cordoned off on Wednesday afternoon.
Puriri Street in Castlecliff was still cordoned off on Wednesday afternoon.

"There's not really many Black Power left around here. A lot of them have been locked up for that last shootout. I don't know how they're going to get on here but no doubt the [Mongrel] Mob will retaliate. There could be innocent bystanders that are going to get shot.

"They [the police] could stop the Mob from coming in. Stopping them on the highway or something. The police know there's going to be a retaliation. They're the law so they can just put their foot down and end it.

"If the Mob [are] going to come out here and cause any trouble the police should be out here too and stop it straight away."

Another resident in the area said he and his wife were home when the shooting happened.

"Two shots ... two times. I said to my wife 'did you hear that?' My wife said 'yeah it sounded like guns'.

"My wife was getting scared ... I closed the door and we sat inside the house. We saw the police cars everywhere. I said [to my wife] 'don't be scared, I'm here'."

A woman who was close to Kevin Ratana's family said many of the family members had gone to Palmerston where the young's man body would be autopsied.

She said Ratana was a good man.

"A patch does not define the man. There are many reasons men seek brotherhoods in gangs. Not all are evil or bad.

"Some good minds and hearts are in gangs. Some break free and create change, some create change within. A few, as in every walk of life, use it to hide behind and commit heinous deeds."

She said attempts were being made to settle tensions between the two gangs but solutions weren't straightforward.

"There is a move towards working differences out around the table. But ... there remains some fueled by ignorance, hatred and a lack of insight that still act like thugs. Of course often alcohol and meth are a driving factor."

Police have reiterated to the public they know the conflict is between two parties known to each other and they don't believe there's a risk to the general public.

"We want the Whanganui community to feel comfortable that there is a strong police presence in the area working hard to investigate this crime," McKay said.

"Extra officers have been brought in from Manawatu and Taranaki to assist and for that reason people will notice an increased Police presence across the city. People shouldn't be alarmed by this, but reassured.

"Our staff are appropriately trained and equipped to deal with any situation which may arise."

Whanganui's Deputy Mayor Jenny Duncan said it was business as usual for Castlecliff and the wider Whanganui area.

"Everything is quiet and in hand. We have full confidence in what is happening."

The police area commander was keeping everyone updated, she said.

"It is a one-off event, it is not random. We do anticipate that it is quite isolated.

"We are a quiet community, the event was unexpected and the police will just continue to conduct the investigation."