By Katie Harris

Former politicians, councillors and abuse survivors are among speakers at a Waikato Mongrel Mob workshop.

The Mana Whānau Day has been organised by Mana Wahine - an associate women's group to the Mongrel Mob Kingdom.

Speakers at the event include Dame Tariana Turia, Sir Pita Sharples, Merepeka Raukawa Tait and gang abuse survivor Zania McCauley.

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Sharples said it was a privilege to be speaking and he had worked with the Mob since the '70s.

"Now they are trying to get opportunities up and running and doing some really good stuff in terms of getting into work and programmes," Sharples said.

He said although there was concern about methamphetamine, there was less friction between gangs.

"They're all our young people and we have a responsibility to be with them."

In an interview with the Herald earlier this year, a Kingdom representative said in a bid to reduce drug use they had been doing methamphetamine tests.

Organiser and new women's Mongrel Mob leader Paula Ormsby said the event was to facilitate political discussions and promote voting.

"We just do the work. We've been doing these for a long time, for years now."

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Ormsby said they were expecting more than 1000 attendees, including members of other gangs.

In spite of recent comments, Simon Bridges was invited, but Ormsby said he promptly declined.

She said she could see why he didn't want to come because he's "going hard" on gangs to attract votes.

In 2017, the Kingdom also helped to organise the Hearty Hauora health care event with the Waikato District Health Board, and Ormsby said the Kingdom was in the process of organising a second event.

Media relations officer Louise Hutchinson said the event was created to inspire and educate.

Louise Hutchinson, left, media adviser to the Mongrel Mob Kingdoms, and Paula Ormsby, a leading woman with the gang. Photo / Katie Harris
Louise Hutchinson, left, media adviser to the Mongrel Mob Kingdoms, and Paula Ormsby, a leading woman with the gang. Photo / Katie Harris

She said two speakers were particularly inspiring because of their past trauma.

"If these two wahine can survive what they're been through then all of us can, and that will lead directly to reduced suicide rates," Hutchinson said.

In a statement, police said they were aware of the event and would not be attending, but they would respond to any incidents if they arose.

The Waikato chapter has gained notoriety recently, for its work guarding mosques after the March 15 attack, speaking to criminal justice students at the University of Canterbury and announcing a women's chapter.