Police Minister Stuart Nash says a shot fired in a gang brawl that struck a car seat with a child sitting in it in Taradale shows why action is needed to deny gang members access to guns.
Police said on Monday the fight involving 30 to 40 Black Power and Mongrel Mob members on Gloucester Street in Taradale about 1pm on Sunday was "completely unacceptable" and called on the public for help identifying the culprits.
The two gangs meet on the road as a brawl broke out and before a vehicle jumped the kerb, crossing over a pathway and going on the wrong side of the road towards the crowd.
A 25-year-old man had injuries to his head, face and torso from a single gunshot and remained in a serious but stable condition at Hawke's Bay Hospital, with extra security.
One of the pellets discharged was later found to have struck the rear of a child's car seat. The child was uninjured.
Nash said the shooting, in a commercial area of his Napier electorate, would not be tolerated.
He said drugs like meth were fuelling the rivalry between the Mongrel Mob and Black Power and "we are working hard through the health system to improve services and treatment for addictions".
The rise in gang activity and numbers could be linked back to 2011 when the Australian motorcycle gang the Rebels arrived in NZ, he said.
He said police needed more tools and resources to help them fight gangs, including legislation that made gun licences unavailable to gang members.
Nash said a Select Committee report on the legislation would be back in February and he felt confident it would pass into law.
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Nash said police numbers on the ground were increasing, a special Gang Focus unit had been set up, and police were seizing gang assets.
But police could not arrest its way out of the problem of anti-social behaviour, he said.
National Party MP Lawrence Yule said he agreed with Nash that gang members should have zero access to guns, but he still found the suggestion ironic.
"Labour has twice voted down National's attempts to bring in Firearm Prohibition Orders for gangs, which would have given police more powers. He could have done it two years ago, but he didn't," Yule said.
"It is better late than never."
Yule said there had to be "a tougher line" taken.
"The public have had a gutsful, and what's happening now is clearly not working."
He said the increase in police officers and gang-focus units were in their infancy and other methods needed to be tried.
"National will be releasing a comprehensive 'Gang Plan' this year setting out how we will crack down on gangs," Yule said.
"We've already proposed a designated police unit, similar to Strike Force Raptor in New South Wales, which would suppress and disrupt gang members and their thuggish, criminal behaviour."