Notorious New Zealand gangs plan 'fight club' to relieve tensions

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A spate of gang killings in Northland on the North Island in 2016 had brought tensions to new highs

Hundreds of gang members in New Zealand are preparing for the inaugural “fight club” – an organised boxing match between rival gangs that leaders hope will present a safe way to vent simmering tensions.

Some 60 rival gang members from some of New Zealand’s most notorious chapters – including Black Power, Head Hunters and Nomads – will face off at a Whangarei community centre on Saturday night. It is the fourth choice of venue after three other options pulled out of the controversial event.

Former gang member and event organiser Tokomauri Hoterene said a spate of gang killings in Northland on the North Island in 2016 had brought gang tensions in his region to new highs.

There are ten different gangs in Northland and Hoterene said 80% of the violence is related to disputes over drugs.

Hoterene and his fellow organisers hope some of the lingering anger can be punched out in the boxing ring, but its been a challenge to get venues and some members of the community on board.

“As soon as anybody hear’s gang – boom – shuts down. We went through three venues till we actually found one ... we are looking at doing this properly, it has to be controlled because we want this to continue,” Hoterene told Maori Television.

“I’d rather walk out of a ring with a broken nose and a black eye and maybe some more missing teeth than I would coming home in a box”

The president of the New Zealand chapter of the Mongrel Mob known as Smashdog told Maori Television it was about time gangs started addressing their differences.

“We should be sticking together you know, brothers aye, that’s what we’re all about, sticking together,” he said.

“Things have changed. We’re trying to make good all the P [methamphetamine] and all that sort of stuff and all the murders. We’ve just had enough.”

Whangarei Police said in a statement they were aware of fight night and there would be an increased police presence in the area. Maori wardens will also be there.

“Police will conduct checks of those attending, and traveling to and from the event,” the statement said.

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