Shootings in Wairoa have prompted an urgent telephone conference between police, community and agency leaders in Wairoa in a bid to find answers to decades-long, often-armed gang-based conflict in the area.
But, revealing the "meeting" took place late yesterday, Gisborne-based police Tairawhiti (Gisborne, East Coast and Wairoa) area manager Inspector Sam Aberahama said there are incidents and details police are not being told about.
He said it's "all about red and blue" – sometimes within a family and sometimes "intra" gangs rather than between gangs.
It's been going on for decades, since the 1970s and 1980, there's methamphetamine, and there's some fear about coming forward to talk about the events, he said, but stressed families and communities need to "stand-up" and co-operate with police to help resolve the issues.
Extra police resources are being put into the town to resolve current issues, and in a prepared statement he said yesterday police in the town will carry firearms until those issues are resolved.
That will reassure the public of their safety and that the violence, in public places or anywhere else won't be tolerated, he said.
"Wairoa is an awesome place and a lot of people are doing a lot of hard work to try to lift it up,' he said. "Wairoa deserves better."
The police stance is supported by Mayor Craig Little, who said a lot of people, including police are "just over-it".
"It's childish stuff when people think they can just go around firing guns in public places," he said.
"But police are not getting enough information. If people are not talking to police about this they need their heads read."
He believes that while there are issues such as "meth", there are jobs available to help people and avoid involvement in gang lifestyles, while Aberahama says it might not be possible to take the gangs out of Wairoa, but it's possible to stop the "violence and the meth."
"There's no need for it," he said.
Among the incidents recently was the reported firing of shots at a vehicle on Monday in Lucknow St, two blocks south of and parallel to riverfront Marine Parade.
No one was injured, Aberahama said, but a 19-year-old man had been charged with possession of an offensive weapon.
Another two men, aged 19 and 23, were charged with unlawful assembly and assault in relation to another matter and appeared, while police were also investigating how a man had received a gunshot wound to a leg before he arrived at Wairoa Hospital on Monday night in what appeared to have been another incident.
The person arrested on Monday had also been linked possibly as a target in another incident in the town on Show Day, January 16, one member of the community told Hawke's Bay Today.
Aberahama said in the statement further incidents had been reported where firearms had been presented at people or vehicles, but have not been discharged.
"Police understand incidents like this can cause a great deal of concern in the community," he said.
"However we would like to reassure the public that these incidents involve specific groups of people who are targeting each other."
"In response to these incidents, Police have increased our presence in our communities and I have authorised temporary carriage of firearms for Police staff in the Wairoa area," he said.
Among police in the town is Senior Sergeant Maui Aben, who this week took on the role of "response manager", replacing Senior Sergeant Tony Bates, who retired from the police last year.
The town's history includes the killing of two men and wounding of two others in shootings during a gang confrontation on Marine Parade in 1988.
Aberahama said that anyone who has information which could assist police investigation of latest issues they should make contact via phone 105 and quote file number 210123/1106. Information can also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.