A Black Power member who took part in a riot with gunfire that "ruffled the trouser legs" of police has been jailed for three years and 10 months.

Fairmond Popata-Edwardson held a gun in the riot involving hundreds of gang members in Whakatāne in January 2017.

In August last year, a jury found Popata-Edwardson guilty of rioting, being part of an organised criminal group, using a firearm against a law enforcement officer, discharging a firearm with reckless disregard for the safety of others and being in unlawful possession of a firearm.

Justice Graham Lang's sentencing notes have just been released by the High Court at Rotorua, after a hearing on June 14.

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According to the summary of facts, Black Power members stationed themselves at various points around Whakatāne where they thought Mongrel Mob members in a funeral procession would enter the town.

Police investigate at the Valley Rd and Arawa Rd intersection in Whakatāne after 2017 gang riot. Photo / File
Police investigate at the Valley Rd and Arawa Rd intersection in Whakatāne after 2017 gang riot. Photo / File

When it entered along Valley Rd, Black Power members and associates went to a service lane running parallel to the road, and "ambushed the procession by throwing missiles at it".

"These included rocks, bottles and sticks."

Justice Lang said that was low-level violence, "however, it evoked a much more violent response from the Mongrel Mob" who fired shots and veered vehicles down the service lane to retaliate.

Senior Sergeant Richard Miller discusses the recent events in Whakatane culminating with violence between Black Power and Mongrel Mob members.

One driver tried to run over a Black Power member.

"The word went out very quickly to members of the Black Power group stationed in other parts of the township ... Black Power decided to mobilise and conduct a show of force in Arawa Rd."

The funeral procession of about 150 vehicles and as many as 200 to 250 members of the Mongrel Mob stopped after the clash on Valley Rd.

Members got out of the vehicles and gathered at the intersection with Arawa Rd.

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"Black Power members and associates then arrived near the intersection of Arawa Rd and Tahi St, approximately 150m away."

A silver Mitsubishi Galant parked near the Black Power members and guns were immediately pulled from the boot.

Cellphone footage showed Popata-Edwardson removing one of these and "examining" it.

"The incident came to a head when other members of your group handed a firearm to Mr Karaneihana Taipeti. He then discharged it on two occasions in the direction of the Mongrel Mob members. There were also several police officers at the other end of the street trying to keep the Mongrel Mob from coming down Arawa Rd."

The evidence said some of the pellets ruffled the trouser legs of police officers, but by this time "the force of the shots had been spent".

Bullet holes in the side of the HBL Builders premises after Whakatāne gang clash in 2017. Photo / File
Bullet holes in the side of the HBL Builders premises after Whakatāne gang clash in 2017. Photo / File

Justice Lang used a starting point of four years and three months' imprisonment but reduced this by five months because of Popata-Edwardson's delayed sentencing indication, which deterred him from entering pleas.

He was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison for being part of an unlawful criminal group, nine months for rioting, six months for unlawful possession of a firearm and 12 months for the other two charges.

These will all be served concurrently.