The fate of five Black Power gang members is now in the hands of the jury trying them in the High Court at Rotorua.

For two hours Justice Graham Lang outlined the law in relation to the charges jurors have to reach verdicts on and summed up the 12 days of evidence and legal argument before telling the five men and seven women they had as long as they needed to reach their verdicts.

That included going home for the night and returning tomorrow if they hadn't reached their final decisions by about 4.30pm today.

He also told them they were welcome to ask for video footage of the confrontation between those on trial and their Mongrel Mob adversaries to be replayed if it would help with their deliberations.


On trial are Benjamin Biddle, Whitu Taipeti, Codie Taitapanui, Te Reneti Tarau and Taumata Tawhai.

A sixth defendant, Stallone Harawira, was discharged at the end of the Crown case after the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to sustain the charges he faced.

When the trial began on June 25 each pleaded not guilty to charges of rioting, participating in an organised criminal group, unlawfully possessing firearms, using a firearm against a law enforcement officer and discharging a firearm with reckless disregard for safety at Whakatāne on January 17 last year.

Only Taitapanui and Tarau now face the unlawful possession charge.

All charges stem from an all-out riot when Black Power members took exception to the Mongrel Mob taking part in a funeral procession for one of their senior members through territory Black Power claims to be exclusively theirs.

A number of other Black Power members have already admitted roles in the armed confrontation and have been dealt with by the courts. No Mongrel Mob members were charged in the wake of the confrontation.

The seven police officers allegedly shot at were from Rotorua and had raced to Whakatāne when summoned to lend support to their colleagues in the besieged town.