Gang ‘intimidates’, ‘shocks’ tourists
The notorious Mongrel Mob street gang in New Zealand has "shocked" tourists and angered locals after taking over a popular landmark in an apparent "patching ceremony".
According to Newshub, locals and "intimidated" tourists were prevented from driving or walking up Te Mata Peak - a popular destination in Hawkes Bay - over what appeared to be a gang ceremony in the carpark on the weekend.
"I was contacted by a concerned resident last night who had been speaking to some visitors to Hawkes Bay that had felt intimidated and told to turn back around and not go to the top of the peak," local councillor Damon Harvey told Newshub.
"The tourists were shocked that this could happen in public and felt intimidated. If they were holding a patching ceremony, then that's totally unacceptable."
The Mongrel Mob are especially active in various parts of New Zealand after forming in the 1960s. By 1966, they were wearing patches bearing the name "Mongrel Mob".
The notorious group - who have headquarters in Queensland and more than 30 chapters throughout Australia - is, according to the New Zealand Herald, an "outlawed motorcycle gang involved with violent initiation processes and Nazi insignia".
"The gang claims it offers a surrogate 'family' for young men, most of whom are often alienated from their family, with the majority of its Australian members originating from New Zealand, European, Māori and Polynesian ethnic groups."
New Zealand police have been attempting to crack down on the gang for decades, with the Mongrel Mob being targeted in investigations into the supply and distribution of methamphetamine across the country.
According to Cr Harvey, police were in attendance on the weekend but didn't stop the ceremony.
"I walk and ride up there regularly, as do many family and friends - it needs to remain a safe place," he said.
"It seems none of the protocols of holding an event were followed, and at the end of the day, I don't think this is the type of activity we want in such a high-profile public space.
"Council, gang leaders and New Zealand Police need to meet and resolve this before it gets too out of hand."