They had never been friends but a recent police mediation had restored peace between rival Mongrel Mob and Black Power members. Now something's changed. Journalist Kelly Makiha reports.
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Tension between rival Rotorua gangs have boiled over again and police say out-of-towners ignorant to an understanding of peace were mainly to blame.
Police say tensions grew between the Mongrel Mob and Black Power in Rotorua when the country returned to alert level 2 in the middle of May.
Rotorua police area commander Inspector Phil Taikato said this prompted police to call a meeting a few weeks ago between different gang factions to mediate, which had a "reasonable level of success".
"However, since then there has been an influx of out-of-towners ignorant of this peaceful understanding, along with other unforeseen issues, that has led to a number of isolated events currently painting a picture that is more dire than it is."
Gangs clashed twice in Rotorua on Friday. The first was a report of disorder about 3.20pm on Clayton Rd, near the Mobil service station.
Rotorua Daily Post readers on Facebook described an "ugly" scene involving gang members, including a man with no shirt on bent over a car that had a smashed window.
Another reader described a car driving off from the scene at speed towards them. Police said no one had been arrested but they were making inquiries.
The second incident was about 11pm on Friday when a member of the public witnessed a terrifying moment when men wearing Mongrel Mob patches smashed a car screaming "Kill him dog" at the Gull Petrol Station on Lake Rd.
The witness, who wanted to remain anonymous, was at the pump paying for petrol when the men pulled in and ran up to the car and smashed it for about a minute. At least one of the men had a weapon like a hatchet or a hammer.
The owner of the car was inside the store and the witness said he believed Gull had locked the doors.
The witness said he tried to keep his eyes down but could see the gang members smash the back window and the sides of the car.
Taikato said the Gull forecourt incident was still under investigation and all those involved would be held to account.
"While this is a matter still under investigation, I will not comment on progress at this current time."
Taikato said police would now increase their focus on the gang issue over the next month, including calling in police from other areas.
"We will be seeking specialist assistance from out of town to assist and those who want to continue misbehaving and making our town unsafe will be taking a short holiday."