Residents of a small King Country town besieged by gang violence in recent months have breathed a "sigh of relief" following a police raid that netted four arrests and a swathe of weapons and cannabis.
Waitomo District mayor Brian Hanna said Te Kuiti residents and business owners had been fearful, with reports of some sleeping with weapons at their bedside, after an alleged campaign of intimidation and violence by a cutaway gang of the Mongrel Mob.
"There was real anxiety about the town because this sort of behaviour was pretty serious, very intimidating," Hanna said.
Court documents show the four arrested men, aged 41, 46, 49 and 53, jointly charged with demanding with menace four Harley Davidson motorbikes or $80,000 from a member of the Te Kuiti Motorcycle Club overnight on August 18.
The Herald understands a man suffered a broken jaw, while a business owner was stood over in an alleged extortion in a separate incident.
Hanna said many of the 29 business owners and the town's 4000 residents felt frustrated and frightened over the escalating incidents.
He said the "posse" was allegedly led by a man who had returned from Australia to Te Kuiti, and they were not members of a local chapter of the Mongrel Mob.
It was unclear if that man had been deported from Australia under it's tough new rules to return New Zealand-born criminals, even if they have spent the majority of their life in Australia.
Other charges included assault with intent to injure, threatening to cause grievous bodily harm, robbery, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, theft [four counts], participating in organised criminal group [four counts], and threatening to kill [seven counts].
Hanna said residents were pleased with yesterday's dawn raids on seven houses and the arrests, carried out by Armed Offenders teams from Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.
"There was a feeling of we've had a gutsful of that behaviour," Hanna said.
"There's still two more the police are looking for and they'll find them. And we just support their actions totally."
He said Te Kuiti's favourite son, former All Black the late Sir Colin Meads - whose statue takes centre stage on the main street - would have had no respect for the gang activities.
"Colin would have been pretty unimpressed with their behaviour and he would have said they need a 'clip round the ears'."