An Auckland woman says gang members from a prominent crime family have illegally moved into her rental property and refused to leave.

And despite police intervention, the alleged squatters have now occupied the Ōtāhuhu house for eight months.

Ravina Prasad said the property manager for her Albert St property discovered someone had apparently broken in when the house was vacant in May. The intruders had shifted in their belongings and changed the locks.

Police told Prasad that the person living there was Abraham Wharewaka junior, a member of the Black Power gang who was jailed in 2005 on organised crime charges. He is the son of the late Black Power president and notorious drug dealer Abraham or "Abe" Wharewaka senior. Wharewaka junior's partner is Shirlena Julian, the daughter of one of the Mongrel Mob founders.

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"To be honest, I cry every night," Prasad said.

"Knowing that someone has walked off the street, gone in there and claimed that it is his."

A police spokesman said Wharewaka jnr was arrested for wilful trespass at the house in May. But the trespass matter was adjourned when it came before the court in July and it is not scheduled to be heard again until March.

Exasperated by the delays in getting their property back, Prasad and her husband Neelesh Chandra have taken a civil case to seek a ruling that they are the owners of the property.

"Our civil case needs to prove that we are the owners of the property," Prasad said. "Once we do that, we can do the trespass."

While Prasad waits for her day in court, her family is running out of money. The dispute has cost her $17,500 in lost rental income and $8000 in legal bills so far.

"It's such a nightmare right now," Prasad said. "I've exhausted all my savings. I just don't know where I'm going to pay the next mortgage from."

Black Power flags in the window of a property in Otahuhu whose owners say is being occupied illegally. Photo / Leon Menzies
Black Power flags in the window of a property in Otahuhu whose owners say is being occupied illegally. Photo / Leon Menzies

Her affidavit for the civil case shows Wharewaka jnr, 52, is claiming that the property is owned by his father. Wharewaka snr, who died in 2017, once ran a $5 million drug empire in a cluster of houses on Albert St known as "the marae".

Prasad and Chandra's lawyers say they can find no evidence to back his claim of ownership.

Property records show the land was owned by Te Mana Developments - a company which appears to be linked to Wharewaka snr - in the 1980s, but the company went into liquidation in 1986 and the property was sold by Housing New Zealand, possibly in a mortgagee sale.

Prasad said she was shocked that she had been forced to take court action to prove ownership of her property. She and Chandra bought the property in 2015 and their names are on the title.

Despite being trespassed by police, Wharewaka jnr has returned to live at the house. Prasad said she had been told by police to stay away because he was considered dangerous, and possibly armed.

Prasad is not paying the power or water bills for the house, and suspects Wharewaka jnr is paying to keep the lights on. Watercare cannot cut off water to a property for safety reasons.

There was no one at the address yesterday to comment on the dispute. There were Black Power flags in the home's windows and cars with the gang's insignia parked in the driveway.

Nearby residents say they have complained to police several times about what they believed to be questionable behaviour at, and around the home, where there are "always people coming and going".

THE MARAE

Abraham aka Abe Wharewaka, pictured here in 1986, was Black Power president and founder of the Black Power Sindi chapter. File photo / Bay of Plenty Times
Abraham aka Abe Wharewaka, pictured here in 1986, was Black Power president and founder of the Black Power Sindi chapter. File photo / Bay of Plenty Times

Albert St in Ōtāhuhu was once the home of a drug empire which was making $35,000 a week.

It was led by Abraham Wharewaka senior, who set up the Sindi chapter of Black Power in 1978.

Wharewaka took advantage of Government funding for work schemes to build a 12-unit housing project on Albert St and a factory in East Tamaki. The work programmes earned approval from the highest places - Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon gave his support.

But alongside the work schemes, Wharewaka snr used the factory to manufacture cannabis and methamphetamine and the Albert St units to sell them. At its peak, the operation was making $5m a year.

The drug ring in Ōtāhuhu was shut down in 2003. Wharewaka snr was jailed for eight years for manufacturing methamphetamine, cultivating cannabis, and belonging to an organised crime group. He was released from jail after five years.

Wharewaka jnr was sentenced to 22 months in jail in 2005 for participating in an organised crime group and possession of a loaded pistol. Their operation was so sophisticated that the judge who sentenced them called it "visionary".

The archway of the Otahuhu housing development known as
The archway of the Otahuhu housing development known as "the marae", which was once the centre of a $5 million drug ring. Photo / Leon Menzies

There are still reminders of "the marae" today. A kūaha, or archway, sits over the shared driveway to the housing development, with the clenched fist of the Black Power insignia stamped on it.