A gangland murderer turned jailhouse drug kingpin who orchestrated a $1.8 million methamphetamine operation from behind bars is set to be released back in the community.

And it has been revealed that the killer has denounced his patch - retiring from the gang that he killed for.

Dean Waka Nathan, 54, was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the murder of Max Shannon in Christchurch in July 2001.

Shannon, a Black Power gang member, died after being shot in a drive-by shooting as he sat in his car after rugby league practice.


Waka and the others involved in the killing are rival Highway 61 gang members.

As if the life sentence was not hefty enough, while in Christchurch Men's Prison in 2008 he was convicted of supplying and conspiring to supply a significant volume of methamphetamine - offending that resulted in a 17-year sentence.

The court would hear that Nathan, using an unauthorised cellphone, orchestrated a plan to purchase large amounts of methamphetamine in Auckland and transport it to Christchurch where it would be distributed.

He had previous convictions before the murder, involving driving offending, drugs, violence and property offending.

Nathan became eligible for parole last year and was refused an early release from prison because his security classification was too high.

By the time he saw the Parole Board again in May he had completed and done "very well" in a rehabilitation programme.

"Mr Nathan was a mentor to a number of the other younger men who were also doing the programme," said Parole Board chairman Sir Ron Young.


He said Nathan had "significant" support in the community including at the address where he proposed to live.

"He was a member of the Highway 61 gang but seems to have retired from that gang many years ago now."

Sir Ron said as Nathan had no firm release date he had not been able to undertake any guided releases or reintegration programmes.

"He is in Self Care and is working outside the wire," he said.

"He works in a situation that involves him being sole charge as a trusted offender.

Sir Ron Young, chairman of the Parole Board. Photo / NZ Parole Board
Sir Ron Young, chairman of the Parole Board. Photo / NZ Parole Board

Sir Ron said he would be released on August 17 on the basis his approved accommodation was still appropriate.


"We have decided that he is no longer an undue risk."

The convicted killer would be subject to conditions for five years after his release including electronic monitoring and a curfew from 9.30pm to 6.45am.

He is banned from possessing, using or consuming alcohol, controlled drugs or psychoactive substances except if they are prescribed by a health professional.

He is also banned from communicating or associating with any person he knows is connected with the Highway 61 gang unless he has prior written approval of a Probation Officer.

And he must not have any contact with any victims of his offending.

"We will review them when we see him on a monitoring hearing in February 2021," Sir Ron said.


"At that stage there will need to be reviews of both the curfew and of course his residence."