Gang patch ban a white knuckle drag


TVNZ’s ‘Sunday’ current affairs programme last night (25/02/2024) featured the gang situation in Opotiki and contemplation of the Nat-Act-NZ First government’s promised gang patch ban. The editor of The Daily Blog had phoned that morning to tell me I was on the show’s promo piece airing repeatedly in the ad breaks on TV1. I had provided, briefly, my view on the patch ban a couple of months ago when their camera crew were shooting outside the Opotiki police station.

The whole thing was quite random (I just stumbled into them and they asked for a stand-up interview there and then) so I know I look like shit and may have said some shit too – I can’t remember exactly, but can guess roughly. I’m mentioning this because I haven’t seen it; only heard what the editor has told me.

One of the questions put was something like: ‘do the gangs run the town?,’ and my immediate reaction was to laugh; and of course I’ve been thinking they might take that as a contempt for them rather than as a reaction to a loaded question. Do the police run the town (?) may have been another way to pose that issue. I couldn’t care less what I said about the NZ Police and whether they were insulted, but a gang on the other hand, you have to take that with caution and that is a better indication of who is the force to be reckoned with. But, essentially no one runs the town, it’s a matter of consent, balance and discretion between all the players, armed and unarmed. Think of it this way: after the constables have left the scene, their car drives off down the road, who is running that manor? Police are there artificially, the gangs are organic.

There’s a line from one of those British political dramas whose name eludes me, but the quip is: ‘TV is for being on, not watching’. So I find myself too busy and intransigent to sign up to TVNZ On-Demand to watch it before writing this column. So this is without the benefit of hearing from anyone else involved. I did however catch a glance of an image on twitter from the TVNZ account promoting the programme and I see two local mob guys I know very well are in the montage. I scrolled through the comments. Out of about 30 only two were critical of the patch ban policy and the rest were various shades of reactionary, moronic, knuckle-dragger grade spittle, the audience the new government is feeding the raw meat out to – and they were gorging on it. So much thickness on display. Such simpletons and so vengeful.

Not sure what I’m repeating here from the programme, but there are three main points:

1. In rural and provincial towns (like Opotiki) the gangs are a normal facet of community life in a way completely different from cities and suburbia. The reactions therefore are different. In Opotiki the gang members are numerous, they are our work colleagues, our neighbours, our cousins – they are us, and so there is no intimidation factor because everyone knows everyone on a personal level. There is a high level of social acceptance and a reduced level of stigma. This situation encourages good behaviour and social conformity – that is the expectation everyone has. There are gang members in their leather vests doing any number of everday things on the streets – carrying shopping, pushing prams, walking the dog, mowing the berm – are they going to be arrested by the police sartorial division after the government’s Bill goes through?

2. Enforcement of any patch ban will be problematic in extremis in communities like Opotiki. The basis for successful policing is consent (and trust) of the community combined with operational discretion. Both of these elements will be jeopardised if the type of crack-down rhetoric we hear from Police minister Mitchell is translated into legislation. The result will be institutional resistance within NZ Police. This is on a practical basis that they will not be able to function satisfactorily if they are promoting ill-will and promoting retaliation by carrying out the ban to the letter. The gang members will resist attempts to take their patches from them, and if there are more gangsters than cops in any incident then gaining compliance will be impossible. It puts both police and gangsters into conflict… and all for what?

3. The consequences. Persecution of gangs by cops will lead to what? Undermining of the cops by a stupid law will lead to what? No one wins here. No one will be safer. And as for any notion that removal of patches will at least reduce the intimidation of the public – which is the rationale of the idea – that seems highly unlikely: the gangsters will adopt coloured clothing like bandanas and other gear to signify their affiliation, their behaviour or conduct won’t change.

TDB Recommends

As for this argument Ministers use that gang regalia bans in Australia have worked, the fact is the small professional bikie outfits in Australia are tiny compared to the mass membership street gangs of the Mongrel Mob and the Black Power. It’s not just comparing apples and oranges it’s a bag of apples versus a whole bin of oranges.

A law to satiate the white thugs of the conservative right and to empower the pearl-clutching, curtain-twitching Karens to call 111 everytime they see a Maori guy with a logo they don’t like is a fool’s errand. Mitchell himself, every inch a monosyllabic neanderthal, kept referring to a Maori couple who were remonstrating with him at a protest on the parliamentary forecourt (just last year I believe it was) as gang members – this was despite them not wearing patches and after they told him they were not! If the dopey cloth-eared minister misidentifies gang members based on race then what does this demonstrate of his comprehension?

Patches really are not the problem. The attitudes of sterile cacooned suburbanites and grumpy rednecks are the problem.


  1. Gangs consider they are outside the law & take pride in this. They believe it’s their cultural mana to behave how they want to with no regard for & wilful abuse of anyone elses civil & legal rights.

    Outlawry used to be statute law for centuries (until around WW2). Outlaws could be killed on sight by any citizen with impunity.

    • I thought they were motorcycle clubs.

      If they are all criminals then all Indians are exploiting migrants and all Chinese are tax cheats.

    • So give them a reason to live within the law. No civil society allows killing on sight with impunity & the only conclusion that can be drawn from your desire to see this happen is that you are a bitter, twisted, evil, undesirable person who most people avoid like the plague.
      While Martyn for obvious reasons does not allow the comment sections to turn into a religious discussion it is only when people can understand that love, forgiveness & doing good, especially to your enemies that any transformation of people’s hearts will happen. Civil law exists because history has shown that most people do not want to practice self-sacrificing love but if those laws are imbecilic then no good can come from them. When Mark Mitchell gets sworn in as a police officer & leads 1 or 2 other police officers to de patch 1-2 hundred gang members in Ōpōtiki I will believe that he believes what he says, till then he is just hot air from an overprivileged simpleton.

    • You sound like Mark Mitchell. Sure go after the gangs, but stop associating wearing a patch with being “outside the law”. Until there is actual legislation around patches, wearing one in public spaces ( not in hospitals) or riding down a road is not outside the law at all.

    • “Outlaws could be killed on sight by any citizen with impunity.”

      Witches and heretics too.
      Those were the good old days, eh?

      • so the hells angels were a ethnically based gang….well in the sense that they were all white…being ethnically based gang is not a get out of jail free card

  2. Would this rough, tough, mercenary Mitchell be able to personally take a patch off a gang member? He’d brick himself.

    Gangs exist because of how we run our society–it is known as neo liberal capitalism–which has the bottom 50% of NZers with just 5% of the wealth and alienates several million from full participation in life. Career crims in leather have been taught by experts in suits.

    Such wardrobe policing is undemocratic and I will be supporting gangs on this, because next will be union badges, red flags, Greenpeace banners…

  3. Won’t the gangs just hide their patches under sharp 3 piece pinstrip suits, garish ties, wide brim fedoras and just continue to run around as before?

    Violin cases optional.

    • At least you have a reason for your feelings, the issue is that unless you know why gangs exist & find another solution (decent education, meaningful jobs, affordable housing, equitable wealth distribution, affordable food etc) the reason why people join gangs will still exist & only the outside form will change to comply with whatever laws exist.
      The greed in society manifested in the property Ponzi empires is a perfect illustration of why NZ has such low productivity, people can recognise that Bernie Madoff was a criminal due to his activities yet for some reason inflating land prices with the middle developers gaining wealth while those lumbered with expensive debt to purchase their own property & even those selling the land to the developer potentially getting less than it was worth all suggest that the profit for those at the top mostly comes at the expense of those lower down the pecking order. For some reason it is considered smart business practice by many to own a few houses and then have any tenants paying excessive rents which makes them unable to save enough for their own house which is overpriced due to the landlord demand often using the inflated value of their existing property which is why society is so divided.

    • Did you ever make an effort to engage? i.e.Howzit hanging bros…etc. or just cower in a corner…

      Gang people are not perfect but they are still people, leather clad career crims–trained by suit wearing experts!

    • Most people i have known that live/have lived beside gang pads have not had a problem. In fact most say they feel safer as (as the saying goes) They don’t shit in/around their own nest. My guess is you lived next to someone that you believed to be a gang member and from what i’ve read of your posts you wouldn’t get on with anyone outside your own caste.

  4. Who helped to create our gangs the very people trying to depatch them, our government has lot to answer for when you abuse kids in state homes what outcome do you expect? I can see wars all over our communities our police already acting a bit gang ho.

  5. “essentially no one runs the town, it’s a matter of consent, balance and discretion between all the players, armed and unarmed.”

    That’s a 3rd-world situation you’re describing, Tim. No, not Mogadishu, more like Brazilian favelas.

  6. Mitchell is a moron.
    Police in Opotiki summed it up best by saying ” if someone making this law out of Wellington and sitting at home drinking coffee is expecting a police officer to depatch gang members they come across thus putting their life at risk, then that person is an idiot”
    That idiot is Mitchell.

    Multiple police have stated this is a stupid policy.
    Plus, these small gang towns are under resourced and the irony is that the root cause of this was the cuts made to policing and the closure to community police stations in “2013” under the Key National government. So whilst many bang on about not looking at past governments, National cut funding and shut stations, Labour increased police numbers and funding. End of story.

    • And the hypocrisy of those supporting this policy whilst both the government and themselves claim wasteful spending on Labours behalf. Meh

  7. A big brown guy with tats is scary regardless of whether he’s wearing a silly costume or not. Just ask any league player!

    You just gotta get over the fear and get on with tackling your life.

  8. Yet another government policy being implemented against the advice of people who have studied the problem and dealt with it for years. Obviously rich people have some special insight denied to the rest of us.

    • “Studied the problem and dealt with it”

      And the fruits of said study and dealing are what exactly PK? Record numbers of gang members.

  9. The New Zealand left: “we are a country of rape culture!”

    Also the New Zealand left : “gangs are ok”
    * gives 2.8 million dollars.

    • Why is this a right/left issue? Gangs have been a growing for 50 years of more. Surely we want solutions, not more politics. The evidence appears strong, from those on the front line dealing with problem, that heavy-handed tactics will only make it worse.
      What we have now got is no more than male ego’s egging each other on, ably assisted by a news media and loud politcal rhetoric. This should have been dealt with quietly by giving the Police and social agencies the necessary resources to respond to criminal behaviour and the reasons behind increasing gang numbers.

  10. This might not go down well but.. How is it different for a politicians funeral closing roads and disrupting peoples travel/lives different from a gang funeral doing the same?

      • I guess it comes down to your definition of respect, who defines who you respect and how that respect is demonstrated. As has been pointed out in this blog, not all patch wearers are criminals and not all suit wearers are upstanding members of the community.

      • Trevor, to me the real question opened up by Kim is ‘just how come so many people are finding that gangs (and their leaders) are providing a sense of belonging that is not provided as part of what I suspect you (and Kim and I) accept as normal society.’
        When we identify those causes and address them with real solutions we will be able to move forward as a society.

        • Correct Kim and given the cancelation of the smoke free policy, this government has no respect for the people, so has not earned any respect.

    • Three. The police just couldn’t be arsed doing the paper work, I suspect that a similar approach to this idiotic legislation will happen. Either that or the Police will go on strike for better salaries and a repeal of said legislation.

  11. Trevor February 26, 2024 at 6:22 pm
    “Some people deserve respect some deserve nothing and if you do not know the difference then I feel sorry for you.”
    Trevor February 26, 2024 at 6:24 pm
    That comment was not for you it was for Kim further down
    Trevor would know. He’s speaking from experience.

  12. Didn’t realise mongrel mobs are family friendly teddy bears, who don’t paddle drugs, don’t kill anyone, hold honest jobs, and are themselves law abiding citizens! Should put them in Air NZ safety videos..

    • Good idea Benny, the ex CEO of air NZ is now a gang leader and seems you’re okay with killing people, with his axing of the smoke free policy.

      • No one forced anyone to smoke, infact govts have put in plenty of initiatives to stop people from smoking. However, if they still choose to smoke, it’s s choice.

  13. Without the patch they are members of the community.
    With the patch they literally represent criminality, violence and intimidation.
    The patch is crucial.

    • Oh what a sheltered life you must have led. Some of the meanest most dangerous mfers i have ever met.. and i’ve met a lot, people who would hospitilise you or worse for looking at them funny, people so scary you couldn’t even imagine, have never worn a patch.

  14. Well said Tim. People who have never experienced the dynamics of how small towns operate and the close relationships between gang members and the general public find it hard to comprehend. I’m a pakeha (a qualified teacher) and the father of my kids is a patched mongrel mob member for life. He is not a bad person and has never been in jail. He never says a bad word about anyone, and he doesn’t peddle drugs. Hard to believe but it’s true.
    The nasty people judging others because of what they wear or their ethnicity need to grow a brain. The gang patch ban is racist policy through and through and will create more problems than it solves.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here