CHESTER BORROWS (National—Whanganui)
: I move,
That the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill be now read a third time. This week is the second anniversary of the murder of Jhia Te Tua. In the 18 months to May 2007 around 180 gang-related incidents were attended by Wanganui police, most of which resulted in the arrest and charging of gang members. Obviously, the charges were brought forward under existing legislation. The incidents were minor on some occasions, and they were major on others. Police were shot at during some incidents, as were gang members, whilst members of the public were in the vicinity, and, predictably, an innocent child died. This behaviour is replicated around the country in the biggest cities and the smallest rural towns.
Then, as a result of collaboration between the Wanganui District Council, Wanganui police, and the community, the initiative was taken to draft a local bill to ban gang patches from certain public locations around Wanganui. The Local Government Act 2002 provides a mechanism for communities to make laws to deal with local issues. It does not prevent the inauguration of criminal law on a local basis, and one would think that if the previous Labour Government, on introducing the Local Government Act, had wanted to achieve that, surely it would have specifically excluded it. The local council, police, and community drafted this bill, and consulted on the proposal through public meetings, submissions, and a referendum, even before the public consultation as part of the local bill process. Those who took the time to engage in the process overwhelmingly supported the bill.
Opponents of this bill now have to tell the people of Wanganui why, in this free and democratic society, they can validly seek to withhold from them the right to access the provisions of the Local Government Act. Many opponents make the rather blunt statement that the provisions of the bill will not work. It has to be said quite forcefully that opponents who are parroting such statements need to state what they believe this bill is targeted at. It is targeted at the intimidatory nature of wearing and displaying gang insignia. It is not an attempt to outlaw gangs, stop gang offending, or bring about world peace; it is a narrowly focused instrument to stop intimidation by virtue of the display of gang insignia—that is it.
Passing this bill will prevent gang members from wearing gang insignia in certain places around Wanganui, and that is important on a number of levels. Scruffy-looking individuals may well intimidate people by means of their mere presence or their behaviour. It may be a result of their dress or their tattoos, or it could be a result of their unkempt condition, language, company, or whatever else it may be. But when a Black Power or Mongrel Mob patch is put on those individuals, they become to the observer the manifestation of all the publicity in respect of criminal offending by that gang. Just by wearing that patch they become, in the eyes of the onlooker, rapists, murderers, assailants, or random killers who are likely to break into spontaneous violence at any stage. That is the history of the Mongrel Mob, Black Power, and Hell’s Angels. Those gangs exploit that record. They exploit that history, they publicise it, and they honour and applaud it, and that is intimidating. The intimidation is directly tied to the recognition of the insignia and all that it represents. The display and wearing of the gang patch creates that intimidation, and it is precisely this activity that the bill addresses.
The implementation of this legislation will remove the imperative to defend a gang member’s patch or attack the patch of another. It creates neutral turf, which is a concept that the gangs understand very, very well. It does not make opposing gang members blind to the presence of a rival gang, but it removes the “in your face”, obnoxious presence of rival gangs. The removal of gang patches takes the heat out of the presence of rival gangs, and that is why gang patches are prohibited in courts, pubs, police stations, schools, concert venues, and shows, and in a myriad of other premises and places around the country. Opponents of this bill need to explain the inconsistency in their argument if they differentiate between the prohibitions on gang insignia that exist currently and the proposed prohibitions contained in this bill.
It is also important to note that as part of research to canvass youth attitudes, needs, and wants in Wanganui across a range of issues, which was carried out before the proposal of this bill, 49 percent of Wanganui youth spontaneously responded that intimidation by gangs and gang associates was the single-biggest threat to their feeling safe in their own community. Opponents of this bill need to explain why Parliament
should not take this small step to allow young people to feel safer in their own communities.
Just in recent times we had an attack, gang on gang, in the main street of Wanganui, outside the Work and Income New Zealand office. It occurred at 11 o’clock one weekday morning in the main street of Wanganui. It is captured on video surveillance. There is a group of young patched members standing outside the Work and Income office. A car pulls up, there is an exchange between patched-up rival members from that vehicle and the group, and then there is a severe beating that goes on right in the middle of the central business district and right in the middle of the morning in Wanganui. Although it is true to say that people in Wanganui can go from one year to the next without seeing a gang member in their community or up the main street, there are people who live in suburbs in Wanganui and live within the gang community who are confronted by them every day.
What is the feedback from the gangs? We heard from the police last week that they have had feedback from the gangs that the gangs recognise the position that this legislation puts them in. Gang members recognise that the loss of a gang patch by them is the single-biggest insult that they can give to their own gang. So what we are expecting, and what the police are expecting, is that the gang members within Wanganui will, on the vast majority of occasions, respect the prohibition that is laid out within the parallel legislation of the by-law in Wanganui, just as they do now when they go to court, the police station, a show, or their kids’ sports day.
I have known gang members for decades. I have been attacked by them, and I have responded in kind on occasions. At the same time I know some individual gang members very well. I know their kids, I know their behaviours, I know their flaws, and they know mine. As individuals I can respect some of their virtues and values, but collectively and when operating as a gang, there is nothing to respect. When it comes to patched-up gang members intimidating law-abiding members of the public there is nothing to respect, and I will do whatever I can to remove the ability of these groups to continue with that intimidation. I challenge the opponents of this bill to have the courage and the integrity to explain to this House and the people of Wanganui why they will not allow us to take this small step. I ask who the hell the opponents think they are to try to withhold from the people of Wanganui their right to address this narrow issue in this precise way.
I state very firmly that I am enormously proud to represent a community that has the courage and the will to take this stand, knowing as it does that to move in this way will highlight a nationwide problem that most towns seek to ignore—or, at best, minimise and mitigate—and knowing that the legislation will bring with it negative press and publicity, and will cause confusion as the media grab the low-hanging fruit of gang activity in order to sell newspapers and air time. The media never give a tenth of that publicity to the many, many positive aspects of life in Wanganui and the huge successes that our people realise every day. So I challenge the media to act responsibly, and to show the balance that they continually wax lyrical about in their reporting of incidents in Wanganui.
Finally, I restate that Wanganui as a community, and especially Mayor Laws and Inspector Duncan MacLeod, have used precisely the provisions of the Local Government Act to address a criminal behaviour that the city has the guts to admit exists in our community. I demand to know of the opponents of the bill why they think they have the right to deny Wanganui the opportunity to act in this way.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour—Waimakariri)
: I join with the previous speaker, Chester Borrows, in showing my respect for the Wanganui District Council. I met with Mayor Michael Laws a couple of weeks ago, and he put his case very
passionately, along with Mr Borrows today and throughout this process, in respect of supporting the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill.
Labour members have been asked by Mr Borrows and others why we are not supporting the bill. The first test, I think, of any legislation is whether it will work. I do not mean that in any disrespectful way to the people of Wanganui. Mayor Michael Laws said to me, and Mr Burrows has said—
David Garrett: Borrows! Get his name right! He’s been here much longer; you should know his name.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE:—there is a chirping from the back row—that they passionately support the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill and asked why Wanganui should not be allowed to trial it. Mayor Michael Laws and I had quite a robust debate over a couple of hours and a couple of sandwiches. I put it to him that, in essence, although the bill is well intentioned, it deals with an issue—not to be trivial—of apparel. Whatever the genius from ACT said concerning Mr Borrows or Burrows, ACT is a party that has flip-flopped. ACT said the bill was repugnant, and now it is voting for it. I will be interested in Mr Hide’s rationale around that, but we will not destroy the debate by getting into the “h” word. I put it to Mr Laws that the problem is that the bill deals with apparel. I note the issue of the link, as he and others have put it, between intimidation and apparel. I put it to the mayor that we can take their patches off, and I am for that, but then what are they replaced with? They are replaced with a bandanna, or a bracelet, or a belt, or whatever. The bill does not achieve its goal.
The other point about this bill, as I understand it, is that—quite rightly—it does not quarantine the whole of Wanganui. It does not ban this apparel from the whole of the Wanganui District; it quarantines certain parts of the area. It is a bit like the bill that I sponsored some years ago, which was the anti - boy racer bill that attempted a nationwide solution. My own council in Christchurch wanted to add to that and it set about quarantining off areas of the metropolitan city. So the boy racers moved from one area to another. I am not comparing boy-racing activity with the grotesque activity of gangs—I just use it as an analogy. They are on two different planes, and I accept that. But I think we will find that gangs, if they wish, will move. They will move to the other side of the street. They will wear their patches over on the other side of Wanganui that is not quarantined off. So the issue for us in Labour is whether this bill works.
The other issue is why a local authority should be held responsible when nationwide solutions developed by Governments should actually be responsible for dealing with these issues. I ask the Government, quite interestingly, why, for instance, it kept postponing the criminal proceeds legislation, which of course would get very tough on gangs and deal to gangs. My view—and I would be interested in colleagues’ opinions—from what I have heard from the police and others, is that the way to get to gangs is to follow the money. The Police Association made comments to that effect to us in select committee this morning—one must follow the money.
Chester Borrows: They support the bill.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: I accept that. One deals to the money. The issue of apparel, although visible, is secondary. One will not get rid of gangs by taking patches off them, but, again, I pay respect to Wanganui. Its people have looked at a solution for the local community. They have put forward some ideas and they want to have a go at putting them into action. Mayor Michael Laws did say to me that Wanganui may pursue these measures, regardless of what this Parliament does, through its own by-laws and regulations; that may or may not be possible. But I do have respect for any local authority that looks for local solutions.
We accept that gangs are intimidatory. They are grotesque. They cause huge angst to people’s lives, even to those who are not touched by the violence of gangs. They feel it
when they go to the local park, and see those folks who behave like thugs. They do not want to have to take their kids out on a picnic and be sitting beside the Mongrel Mob or Black Power. This is not a situation they want. I accept that. But the question from a logical point of view is whether this legislation will work. Will it meet its objectives and actually stop those who wish to intimidate? Will it take their patches off, but will they then put on some other sort of intimidatory apparel? And intimidatory apparel is what we are interested in. Perhaps it will be a tattoo with “Mongrel Mob” on the forehead—a bit difficult to get rid of that, I would have thought. Will it stop them from actually engaging in the grotesque and intimidatory activity they do engage in? I think not. But, as I say, I pay respects to the local authority.
I want, for a moment, given that Mr Garrett has been so vocal on this, to touch on the ACT position because I think that is an interesting position. I think Chester Borrows, Michael Laws, and others have had the best intentions with this bill. They have acted with a high degree of integrity. I respect them for it. But then I look at a quote from that venerable leader, that bastion of honour, Rodney Hide, who on April 2008 said the following: “I am so pleased that Mr Chester Borrows has relieved me of the obligation of voting for this shocking Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill. I said that the ACT party would vote for the bill to go to a select committee. We could never vote for its third reading, but I thought the debate would be useful.” I would just be interested to see the vote tonight by the bastion of honour and integrity that Mr Hide paints himself to be every day. I would invite Mr Hide to tell the House why his position has changed.
Although we in Labour respect the proposition, and we respect the integrity of what Wanganui and the local member is trying to do, our position has been consistent right through. The test for us is whether this will actually have the effect that those people in Wanganui want it to have. I look over at the ACT Party—just look at them all there, Mr Boscawen, Mr Garrett, and Mr Hide, and there will be a few of the other riff-raff around here somewhere, I am sure—and I ask them what has changed. Is it the tantalising what I think Mr Peters called the “baubles of office”. Maybe it is. I am a Catholic; maybe it is “a few pieces of silver” to quote the Biblical phrase. But what has changed?
David Garrett: Maybe we listened to the House?
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: Mr Garrett said maybe he listened. So I suppose that means that Mr Hide’s position of April 2008 is wrong when he called this bill a shocker and said that he would not vote for it is wrong. They cannot be both right. But I would be interested to know what sort of great moral virtue has moved them from their position of being stunned, shocked, and despairing that this bill might go through to now lining up in the lobbies like sheep to vote for it. I suspect there is a reason. It has been highlighted by my colleagues, and it is to do with commitments, or otherwise, that they have sought from the Government. But there is a word for that, it begins with “h” and I will not use it out of respect for the Assistant Speaker in this House. They will live with that. It appears that the old values in the ACT Party are for sale at whatever cost—at whatever cost. It is a free market, is it not? Put the old principle up for sale, get the highest bidder, and they are in—sold. Well, people judge that action for what it is. I am sure that Mayor Michael Laws will disagree with my position and my party’s position on this. But I think that even he would concede that we have been consistent and we have been honourable—and that we have a position on this bill.
I conclude by again paying tribute to the local member. He is a member with experience in law enforcement. I also pay tribute to the mayor and those people who have put their heads round the table to try to look for a local solution to a pretty awful problem. From my party’s point of view we are looking at what is happening, for instance, across the ditch in South Australia. What Mike Rann, the Labor Premier of
South Australia, and Michael Atkinson, the Attorney-General, are doing is pretty robust. I have got to say I think gang legislation there still needs to be tested in terms of its effectiveness and validity. I think they are about to declare their first gang. It will be, I suspect, 12 months before we see whether the legislation is effective, but we are watching closely and learning from what is happening over there. I think that is cutting-edge legislation, but as to whether it is effective, the jury is out. But I say again to the Government that the criminal proceeds legislation is something that it has sort of dilly-dallied around with. It could actually bang it through and, of course, that would have huge effect in terms of dealing with gangs. If we follow the money, follow the structure, and follow the organisation, we deal to that. Again, that is what the South Australians appear to be doing with their legislation. But if we simply deal with an issue of apparel, well-intentioned though it is, I do not believe we will come back to this House, say, in a year’s time or 2 years’ time and say that this is the nut that we cracked to solve the problem.
But I think we have a consistent position, I think we can respect local authorities, and it should not deter local authorities in other places from looking for innovative solutions and going to their local members and saying: “Hey, we want to put some ideas up.” and then for us to properly examine them in the House. At least they will say about the Labour side of the House, and in respect, I think, of most parties—I see that National’s Sandra Goudie, chair of the Law and Order Committee, is here—that we have been consistent, unlike our small friends from ACT who loiter in the corridors over there. I commend the comments to the House.
SANDRA GOUDIE (National—Coromandel)
: I am very pleased to rise and speak to the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill. I will speak slowly for the benefit of the signers who are representing the Deaf community through the Chamber and signing on its behalf. I think that everybody needs to recognise and remember that they are here, and speak a little more slowly to assist them in what is quite a difficult task.
I am very proud to follow my most excellent colleague, Chester Borrows, who has done a magnificent job in presenting this bill to the House and in his representation in the House. Wanganui, like many other metro and provincial centres, has experienced gang activity and confrontations in recent times, culminating in a number of public attacks and the enhanced recruitment abilities of the gangs. We only have to look at some of the headlines in the late months of 2008 to see such activity. For example, in October 2008: “Wanganui: a city driven by gang rivalry”; in November 2008: “Man may have been killed over clothing colour”; and in December 2008: “Toddler’s death exposes ‘true evil’ ”. Those are just three headlines from one part of the country; I am sure there are many more throughout the country.
I applaud Michael Laws, as Mayor of the Wanganui District Council, for all his efforts to do something about the intimidation and fear that gangs engender in Wanganui. I do not know whether many members have had an opportunity to either read or hear the letter from Michael Laws, but I will read from it today. Before I do that, I make a particular point. The previous speaker, Clayton Cosgrove, said that the New Zealand Police Association said that this bill will make no difference. In actual fact, the Police Association, the Police National Headquarters, and local police all support this bill. It is very important that members, when speaking to this bill, do not confuse it with other bills going through the House. I think that is what happened in the case of the previous speaker, because it is very, very clear that the Police Association, the Police National Headquarters, and local police all support this bill.
I will read a bit of the letter from Michael Laws, which gives us some understanding of why there is such support: “There is clear evidence from police statistics that
offences involving gang confrontations with a public safety element have been on the increase in Wanganui. The murder of a 2-year-old child was a direct consequence of these kinds of confrontations, and that is confrontations between rival groups or rival gangs.” The local community wishes to feel safe from confrontation and gang intimidation. That is what my most learned colleague Chester Borrows earlier explained quite clearly to the House. The whole aspect of this bill is around intimidation, and that is why it is based around the prohibition of gang insignia. There was a Supplementary Order Paper defining “gang insignia” a bit further so that it did not include tattoos. I thought that was a very sensible and important modification to the bill. But that is what it is about. I have recently come to learn that parliamentary security prevents within parliamentary precincts the wearing of clothing that bears strong gang insignia. The courts do likewise, and I am sure there are other places that do the same.
It was said that this bill was going to be for Wanganui only. That reminded me very much of the liquor laws, where councils have by-laws banning liquor in public places in certain areas of their districts. Many councils throughout New Zealand have taken up the opportunity to have liquor bans. Those bans have made a huge difference to their communities. It has made people and families within those communities feel so much safer at New Year’s Eve and times like that.
Sue Moroney: But liquor doesn’t have legs.
SANDRA GOUDIE: The relevancy—as I am explaining to that member if she would like to take a moment to listen— is that other councils that see this bill enacted will also want the same opportunities that Mayor Michael Laws is promoting for Wanganui. There is not a schedule attached to the bill, so they can just add their council’s name to the bill. I believe that other councils are watching to see what happens as a result of this bill. I believe that it will be successful, it will make a difference, and other councils will want to do the same. In time to come we might very well see other local bills being instigated, or a modification of this legislation to allow a schedule to be added so that other councils can take the same opportunity.
I will read further from Michael Laws’ letter: “The council, members of the public, and gangs alike are increasingly aware of public buildings in Wanganui and New Zealand generally where the wearing or display of gang insignia is already prohibited and that is the courthouse and the police stations included.” There are also such provisions in other countries around the world; I will name two. The US has gang injunction orders, which designate a geographical area in a town or city and enjoin specified gangs, named gang members, or both from engaging in otherwise lawful conduct within that designated area. Also, England and Wales have two pieces of legislation, one enacted in 1998 and one in 2003, that work in parallel to control antisocial behaviour and unacceptable behaviour. So this provision is not something new; it has been undertaken by the mayor and the council of Wanganui as an initiative that they want to try. They want to bring about some provision for a safer community for their people to live in so that they do not feel intimidated by the wearing of gang insignia and the behaviour of the gangs living within their communities.
At present the council has no ability to control when gang insignia may be worn or displayed, and that is what this bill is all about. There is discernable evidence of antisocial activity whenever gang members wear their patches. Chester Borrows talked in his presentation about the percentage of young people who felt that having gangs present in their community was very intimidating. The statistical figures he gave were very high. This bill provides a new tool for the council: it enables the council to prohibit the wearing or display of gang insignia in specified places. That is exactly the way in which liquor bans operate. The bill will also reduce the likelihood of confrontation between gangs.
I think that Chester Borrows has done an extraordinary job in presenting this bill to the House, and I commend him and the Law and Order Committee for all their efforts. I am incredibly disappointed that Labour has, yet again, fumbled with the ball and failed to support such a worthy initiative.
Hon SHANE JONES (Labour)
: Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker. During the course of this speech I will speak in both English and Māori. Firstly, I acknowledge Chester Borrows. As I have said on earlier occasions, he is bringing forward something that has attracted a considerable level of support from his own community. I am not entirely sure what percentage of the Māori community is behind this initiative. Despite obvious differences with Mayor Michael Laws, Mr Borrows has been voted into that position in “Whanganui”—and Mr Laws may not like the “h” letter, but he is entitled to appeal to his local member of Parliament to have the House consider, dismiss, or pass—even by the narrowest of margins—such an initiative. I acknowledge those two people.
Engari, me huri au ki te kaupapa ake o tēnei pire mō tō tātou iwi, te iwi Māori. Aroha ki ā tātou mokopuna me ā tātou tamariki, ka pēhia ki raro nā roto i tēnei ture tā te mea, ina whakawhiua te tangata ki tēnei ture, ko te mātotoru o te hunga ka whakawhiua, he mokopuna nā te iwi Māori.
[But let me turn to the real effect that this bill will have on our Māori people. I sympathise with our grandchildren and children who will suffer under this law, because when a person is punished by it, the vast number of those who will be affected will be grandchildren of the Māori people.]
I am the first to agree that there is a disproportionate problem amongst many Māori families. Too many of their sons and, unfortunately, their daughters are now living in a gang culture. One has only to read about the efforts of the Housing New Zealand Corporation, clumsy as they are, in dealing with people in State houses. But that small episode shows us that by using this type of legislation and trying to effect a change in that social behaviour based on insignia or apparel, we will create, I dare say, a set of unintended consequences. We will set up a situation, in my view, where there will be a new, fresh range of penalties, or reasons for further marginalisation and alienation of the women and the children who are affiliated with these men.
I have no truck whatsoever, I say to Mr Borrows, with the men in these gangs, and I rather suspect that the problems the member’s colleague has with the Ngāwhā prison are more than likely to be related to their ongoing conduct—criminal, violent, foul, and menacing—even in jail. But the key point is whether the passage of this legislation will effect a change in lifestyle, value systems, and general approach to other people, society, property, and those things we consider to be general rights.
I know where the ACT Party has finally rested upon the matter. It parachuted in a notable member of the anti-crime constituency high on its list. He has come here, and, in a very short period of time, has endeavoured to make a name not only for himself but also for the people who sent him. This is the people’s House at the end of the day, and he is more than entitled to do that.
Members on this side on the House are not keen to indulge or encourage gangs, but we do not believe that passing this law and giving yesterday’s dog registration inspectors, rabbit board inspectors, and drainage inspectors a new range of powers to run around penalising and chasing gang members will change anything. The reality is that the burden will fall on local government officials to make sure that this legislation is meaningful. They will have to identify those areas where gang insignia is tolerated or not tolerated, and I have felt for a while that this will feed a new raft of legal activism, and that is not something I am keen to see. Tāku e āwangawanga nei, ka whāngaitia ngā rōia ki te hari i ngā take pēnei ki te kooti mō te koretake noa iho nei. Me kaua tātou e hanga i ngā ture ka mutu, hoinā nō te hunga ka whiwhi, ko ngā rōia. Engari, me
waihanga e tātou he ture e awhiatia ana e te whānau, ia whāea, ia matua, e tautokotia ana e te mārea whānui.
[My concern is that lawyers will benefit by taking a matter like this—of no consequence at all—to court. We should not make laws where lawyers are the only ones in the end that make a gain. But we should be creating a law that is embraced by the family—each mother and each father—and is supported by the public at large.]
As I have just said in Māori, the legal fraternity will gear up to this measure. Undoubtedly, it will have a divisive effect, in my view, in terms of societal relations in Wanganui. It will provide a slogan, I guess, for some of the people of Wanganui to hammer the gang members in their area. Let us be honest. The majority of those members are the tangata whenua there. Until the ongoing reasons that drive children and grandchildren to be compelled, dedicated, and coerced into this lifestyle are addressed, I do not think that by policing fashion, by policing apparel, and by policing insignia we will see much change other than window dressing. Now, it could be that those gang members will move into Simon Power’s area. I hope that not too many of them go to Marton, because my kōtiro goes to school there.
Members on the other side of the House may find that it would have been a better approach to exploit the legislation that we brought to the House’s attention—in particular, the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Bill. If we want to snuff out the life-force of gangs, then we must address what is feeding them. It is not just bravado; it is wealth, lucre from ill-gotten gains. It is the ability to celebrate and enjoy a culture of violence and mayhem fed by drugs, alcohol, and whatever stunt they can get away with in front of a District Court judge, or it is the ability to avoid detection by the police. At the end of the day, just as the Inland Revenue Department is constantly gouging and looking for rampant illegal behaviour in the commercial world—and I hope it is busy with the dregs of the finance lending companies, as well—it is that level of attention that this problem deserves.
We have heard from the member from the Hauraki-Coromandel area, Sandra Goudie, but if she believed half of what she was saying, this bill would be a Government bill. It is not a Government bill, so it is disingenuous of Sandra Goudie to stand up and endeavour to elevate this bill as if it is National policy. This bill is evidence that National members have been compelled as a consequence of that very unfortunate experiment with Rodney Hide, which will cost those members dearly. But I will speak more about that on another day.
The other matter we need to acknowledge is that Michael Laws has railed incessantly over this issue. He is in a privileged position. He enjoys access to the airwaves and is the civic leader of that area. But have his efforts changed the behaviour of the Māori pocket of that population who are wound up with gangs? No, they have not. His position provides an opportunity for sloganeering, and he has a mandate to do that. I always thought of Wanganui as quite a temperate kind of place, occupied by people who had a judicious and sensible approach to life. Of course, I have reviewed that situation and that view given that those people consistently vote for Mayor Michael Laws from that particular area—although Mr Laws was taught by his colleagues, the members sitting opposite.
So, in peroration, I say that this bill is not a bad attempt, but it is not one that Labour members will back. If one wants to kill gang culture, then one must cut off the life supply of ill-gotten gains from dope, drugs, and the other illegal activities that sustain gangs’ existence. In relation to whether changing and policing insignia will bring about that change, I say that, no, it will not.
Will we come up with an alternative? Well, my colleague Clayton Cosgrove here is toiling away as we speak, having regular communication with senior Australian
political leaders. He is investigating how their model works. That model was generated after a very serious incident in the airport in Sydney. He is looking at that model’s portability and its applicability here. This bill, though, is starting with one little dot—admittedly, it is a brown dot with a poorly conceived tattoo called, largely, the Māori gang members of Wanganui—and is trying to somehow cause that to be spread around the country as though it were some kind of creeping plant.
I say to the Government that if it was serious about dealing with this problem, it would bring in its own bill, with the imprimatur of the Government. It would have it funded and budgeted for, and it would also enjoin broad support for it from the tail of the fish, to Te Wai Pounamu, to Invercargill. And, yes, I know that there are Pākehā members in gangs, and Asian people and Pacific Islanders, but the last time I checked, gangs were predominantly Māori, and the bill will not work. Kia ora tātou.
KEITH LOCKE (Green)
: The Green Party is strongly opposed to the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill. Of course, we are also strongly opposed to street gangs and criminal gangs, and we are not keen on gangs going around wearing gang insignia, but we do not see this bill as being a solution to the problems posed by gangs. Serious civil liberties problems are thrown into the mix, as well.
If we look at the bill we see that it gives unprecedented powers, I would say, to local body councils. Under clause 5 of the bill, the Wanganui District Council may from time to time identify an organisation as a gang. The definition of “gang” is somewhat loose. According to clause 5(3)(b), apart from having a symbol or sign, gangs or their supporters or associates have to collectively “promote, encourage, or engage in a pattern of criminal activity.” Under the bill, then, gangs do not have to engage in any criminal activity, or to have ever engaged in any criminal activity; if they are seen to encourage criminal activity, then that is sufficient for them to be defined as a gang by a council—not by the Government but by a council. That is a very bad precedent.
The Government lists certain gangs in the bill. I know of some of those gangs, such as Black Power and Hell’s Angels, but there are some I do not know of, such as one that is called Mothers, which I have never heard of. I know there are groups of mothers with children who often meet in the central city—
Hon Maryan Street: That will be the League of Mothers.
KEITH LOCKE: That is the League of Mothers, is it? Oh, I am sorry. That is an illustration of the confusion the average citizen could come across. He or she might see a group of mothers—a “League of Mothers”—who have little symbols on their clothes, then get horribly confused and call the police. That is just an example.
According to clause 5(4) of the bill, the provisions will “reduce the potential for confrontation by or between gangs.” I have a little bit of experience with gangs from knowing some people when I was working in industrial jobs in Lower Hutt. I used to pick up and take to work a member of the Mongrel Mob when I was working for the Lower Hutt City Council labourers. I know the great efforts he went to to try to work out whether any members of Black Power were in the vicinity. He would look out the window for Black Power members, and he would not go into a pub without surveying it first to check that a member of the opponent Black Power gang, etc., was not in there. The Black Power and Mongrel Mob members sort of know each other in a place like Wanganui. I am sure they more or less know who each other is. We could argue a strong case that if they are wearing their symbols, they can, at least, be seen from afar, and individual members of opponent gangs can take steps to avoid a confrontation. Usually, they do avoid confrontations; at other times, they do not, of course. To me, the fact that they are not wearing a patch in no way reduces the potential for confrontation.
The bill is also supposed to “prevent or reduce the likelihood of intimidation or harassment of members of the public …” It was said by Chester Borrows that somehow
the patch creates intimidation. I have never been intimidated by a patch. I have been intimidated by people with a violent demeanour who raise their fists and things like that, but I have never been intimidated by a patch. I cannot really see how that works. In fact, banning the wearing of gang insignia could lead to people in the central city, or wherever the ban takes place, feeling less safe. Chester Borrows talked about the fact that it is not that people are scruffy that creates the intimidation, but you could argue—I am not arguing for insignia; I am just dealing with this particular idea that somehow we feel safer when gang members are not patched—that when you come across a big, scruffy individual in the central city where wearing gang insignia is banned, and you do not really know whether that person is a member of a gang, you feel a bit hesitant towards that person. You feel a little bit, perhaps, intimidated.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member has at least twice mentioned in the last sentence the word “you”. That refers to me. Please do not bring the Speaker into the debate.
KEITH LOCKE: Oh, I see. Thank you very much. All I am saying is that banning the wearing of gang insignia does not necessarily lead to less intimidation of members of the public in the central city area, for example.
There is also the question of policing. One could argue that the police will find it a bit easier to do policing if members of a certain element of the criminal community—namely, members of criminal gangs—are identified. It might actually be better for policing if other criminals were to identify themselves with signs on their chests, such as “bank robber”, “car stealer”, or whatever. I do not think that banning the wearing of insignia actually makes policing more effective. In this case I am not arguing for insignia; I am just indicating the contradictions and absurdities of this bill.
It is good, at least, that, during the Committee stage, tattoos were taken out of the scope of the bill, because including them was very discriminatory. There is a certain element of racism in the bill, because the gangs that are potentially identified under the bill tend to be non-white gangs. They are not White Power or skinhead gangs. Those sorts of gangs do not tend to have signs and insignia, but they are just as dangerous, and they beat up people, too.
If we do not allow the wearing of insignia, then the gangs will fall back on other forms of identification, as we see in Auckland with the colour yellow representing the Killer Bees through different forms of yellow on clothing. We have had the sad case of Jordan Herewini, who was killed because he was wearing a yellow shirt and was mistaken for a member of the Killer Bees. We might have more and more of those sorts of cases if we force the gangs back to using other forms of identification.
As I said, we are not keen on insignia or gangs, but this bill will not necessarily lead to better policing or to fewer deaths. It will not lead to fewer people being beaten up; less gang confrontation, intimidation or harassment; or anything else. The precedents it could set in terms of our personal freedom and civil liberties are very bad. Once we start banning certain forms of expression—in this case insignia, and possibly moving on, if that does not work, to colours, etc.—it is very bad. It is particularly bad when we give those very general powers that I have described to local bodies and councillors, who are not trained for doing that sort of policing. In Parliament we are supposedly brought in here as trained and experienced people, part of party groups, to be able to deal with such matters as we are dealing with today. Now we are passing down that law implementation and even, in a sense, law-making function to those of the level of councillors. That is not good enough. The Green Party will vote against this oppressive legislation.
DAVID GARRETT (ACT)
: This is the third time I have spoken on the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill, and I openly confess, without any
embarrassment or shame, that I have found it very difficult to make a decision on it. Earlier, Mr Cosgrove referred to that as flip-flopping. I wish I could remember exactly the quote from John Kenneth Galbraith, who said something like: “I call a man who changes his mind as a result of new evidence very sensible. What kind do you call him?”. I listened very carefully to all of the speeches. I say at the outset that I was impressed by Mr Jones’ speech. He referred to me as a piece of “rock snot” when I first entered the House, but even he made a sensible and thoughtful contribution to the debate, as have many members on all sides of the House, and there have been few—if any—exceptions to that.
It is an open secret that there has been a considerable amount of passionate discussion within the ACT Party on this bill, both in the electorate and in our caucus. It is also fair to say that, as a result, all members of our caucus have carefully studied all of the speeches from all of the members who have contributed to the debate on this bill. I am very happy to acknowledge that a great deal has been said on all sides of the House, and that all contributions, perhaps with one or two minor exceptions, have made a great deal of sense. That has contributed to my difficulty in forming a firm and implacable view. I sit next to members of the Māori Party, and, unless I am much mistaken, my neighbours, both as individuals and as a party, have a very good and respectful relationship with each other. I have listened carefully to the points made by the Māori Party, and I will listen again to the points made by my colleague Rahui Katene. I say kia ora to Ms Katene, but I think I will continue to respectfully disagree with her.
In that state of confusion, I found myself asking, both when at caucus meetings and when by myself, what to do. The answer was to go up to Wanganui. I went up to Wanganui on Monday. I went there for one reason but to do several things: to gather evidence, talk to people, listen to people, and look at some of the benighted areas that Mr Borrows was kind enough to take me around. I do not know how many people have seen the house where little Jhia Te Tua was shot, but I tell members that it was sobering. It was sobering, as were the smashed out, graffitied, glassless shopping areas where decent businessmen—small-business owners—had been driven out by these kinds of people.
From the time I landed in Wanganui on Monday morning—rather too early for my liking—I listened to what people said. I asked local people what they thought. I can tell those who are interested that, excluding Mayor Laws and the police, the score was one taxi driver in favour of the bill, one taxi driver against, two hotel receptionists—when they got over their giggling—in favour, and one waiter in favour.
I then went to meet with the area commander of the Wanganui Police District, Inspector Duncan MacLeod, and five of his heads of department. The reason for that meeting was quite simple: on behalf of my party, both in the electorate and in caucus, I wanted to put to him the questions that members of our party had raised—very vehemently, in some cases—and that the members of this House had raised. I will not touch on them in detail; I will mention only one, the very good question that Mr Jones, Mr Cosgrove, and Mr Locke touched on, which is the question of whether wearing or displaying gang insignia per se should be a crime. A significant faction of our party in the electorate says that it should not be, that it is an interference in free speech, and that we should wait until gang members actually do some crime. That is a pretty sound theoretical answer, especially if one is sitting in a university.
I put that question to Inspector MacLeod and his men. Inspector MacLeod told me that under the ludicrous code of honour—for want of a better phrase—that governs gang behaviour, simply displaying a patch, whether out of a window, on the back, or waving it above the head like the clowns do, virtually guarantees violence in itself. This is
because rival gang members, under their stupid, childish, macho code, feel duty bound to try to “skin” the other member. Skinning is taking the patch. This occurs when only one member is wearing a patch, the policemen said.
Before I forget, one thing struck me in that meeting in Wanganui—the 2-hour meeting I had with those policemen. There was one guy there who was pretty much the stereotypical hardened cop. He was about 45 and strongly built. He said to me, pretty much as Mr Borrows said a moment ago, that, individually, without their patches, he could speak to a number of gang members he knew, and on one level he could find a connection. That policeman looked me straight in the eye. I cannot repeat the word he used in respect of gang members who are patched up, because I am in Parliament, but it was to the effect that he is very frightened. I thought that was a very brave thing for that policeman to say, and I was very surprised.
Mr Borrows gave an example that I was going to touch on, which is about the Work and Income New Zealand incident, but it is one of several that was discussed at that meeting. This incident was classic. The patched member turned up at Work and Income New Zealand, another member was there but not patched up, and one idiot was obliged to try to skin the other. A horrible scene of violence ensued at 11 o’clock in the morning, with ordinary people watching. Why should people see this?
One of the greatest concerns of our party and of Mr Cosgrove and many others in this House is whether this bill will work. I think that was my first question to Inspector MacLeod. I said “Quite frankly, Commander, we are going to look damn silly if we support this bill and it doesn’t work or, worse still, if you don’t enforce it. And in a year’s time we will be laughed at by the other side.” He said “I commit to you that we will enforce this bill. We will enforce it. Sometimes we may get them on closed-circuit television when the cops are not actually there at the time, so they will have to go round and get them later if they can identify them.” He committed to enforcing the bill.
Mr Borrows has touched on something else that was said about whether the bill would work. The policeman I mentioned a moment ago who was intimidated when gang members were patched up said he had had casual, off-the-record conversations with gang members. In their stupid code, they do not want to lose the patch and they have said “No, bro; we won’t be wearing it—not in that place, because we don’t want to lose it.” So who really knows? The bill is a social experiment, is it not? We will find out whether the bill works, but speaking for myself and for my colleague John Boscawen, we will be voting in favour of it. Thank you.
RAHUI KATENE (Māori Party—Te Tai Tonga)
: While we have been gathered today in this Chamber, in
Murupara they laid to rest Percy Marunui Murphy, Ngāti Manawa’s last remaining 28th Māori Battalion warrior and New Zealand’s first Māori mayor. I am told he was an honourable man, a man who enlisted in the Māori Battalion as a young 16-year-old and lived a long and distinguished life of service to the people of Ngāti Hui, Ngāti Manawa,
Murupara, and the wider
Waiariki region. My colleague Te Ururoa Flavell is there at the moment, paying his respects. As they held the final
poroporoaki at Rangitahi Marae,
Te Ururoa Flavell told me that he thought back to another tangi a few months ago. That tangi was for a young man, a 16-year-old who lost his life to war. But it was not a war on offshore lands; it was a war at home in which tomahawks, axes, and knives became the weapons of final destruction. It was a war in which Jordan
Herewini was simply the innocent party in a rumble between two rival gangs. He was the tragic casualty of a turf war that escalated into a violent confrontation on
Those two men must be on our minds as we look at the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill to lessen the threat of gangs in the specific location of Wanganui district. Their memory deserves to be honoured by a future that values
peace, where children are free to walk without fear, and where justice prevails and whānau ora reigns.
One might think that the devastation created by the after-effects of gang violence in Murupara, Wanganui, or Invercargill might lead us, the Māori Party, to support any legislation that seeks to suppress gangs. We would not be out on a limb if we did so. The media have been salivating with calls for retribution, New Zealanders are calling for longer sentences of imprisonment, and the Mayor of Wanganui has launched into daily attack mode, describing gangs as evil and their lives as ones of petty terrorism, violence, and hatred.
We in the Māori Party, as with other members of this House, including Mr Garrett, do not support the growth of gang membership. We oppose any gang activity that results in criminal acts or disorderly behaviour and intimidation, but this is not an unusual position to take. The Māori Party opposes any activity that results in criminal acts or disorderly behaviour and intimidation, whether it be gang related, white-collar crime related, or from an individual on the street. But our ultimate aspiration is not to create a society in which revenge and retribution are the only tools of trade. Our ambition is to support a restorative justice system where agencies work with whānau on issues affecting them, and where the collective goal is to achieve community peace. We are willing and open towards choices that veer on the side of opportunity and inclusion—choices that promote tolerance, not intolerance; choices that speak about another kind of justice.
This bill does not meet a definition of justice that we see in treatment that is morally right and fair. The justice practised in this bill is punitive: blame and retribution become the norm, and warrants for arrest and punishment are put forward as the model. This bill puts in place the power for the Wanganui District Council to create its own territorial battleground. If the bill scrapes through tonight, Mayor Michael Laws will be able to get busy, scheming up by-laws to designate specified places where the prohibition will come into effect, and more by-laws on top of those to identify any organisation, association, or group as a gang. But that is only part of the package. Once the by-laws are through, any person who wears or displays gang insignia, including tattoos, in the designated space—
David Garrett: Tattoos are out.
RAHUI KATENE: Tattoos are out?
David Garrett: Tattoos are out.
RAHUI KATENE: —that is very clever—will be liable to a fine of up to $5,000. People will be committing an offence because of the clothes they wear. There is no place in this bill for a fresh start—for rehabilitation and restoration.
We do not support solutions that are predicated on exclusion and hate. We believe that community peace can be achieved, and that people can be held accountable and face the consequences of their crime, while also being supported towards making amends. I am told that shortly after the death of Jordan Herewini, Ngāti Manawa took the lead in encouraging debate about the kaupapa of utu—that is, the behaviour of revenge and reprisal. It was their belief that the mantle and tikanga of Ngāti Manawa had more meaningful behaviours that could be called on in a time of crisis. They spoke of tātau pounamu, the ancient tikanga of lasting peace. Adherence to tātau pounamu would result in a guarantee of safety for all people and their property. They spoke of whakawhanaungatanga, the call for positive relationships with whānau, hapū, and iwi—with one another. They honoured whakapapa, the blood ties that linked them all, and they considered other processes that could be called on when there was any threat to the tapu of the tātau pounamu.
I was really enthusiastic about the type of discussion that was taking place amongst Ngāti Manawa, but I hasten to suggest that they are not the only ones who are interested in a different kind of justice. In the wake of grief following the accidental shooting of Halatau Naitoko earlier this year, the principles of fakalelei came to the fore. Fakalelei is the process of reconciliation in Tongan culture. It may be seen in the family of the offender, relatives, and supporters visiting the family of the victim and his or her relatives and supporters, to engage in a process of reconciliation that leads to understanding and healing.
A wealth of ideas might come through talking with Kim Workman of Rethinking Crime and Punishment. In his resource,
Looking Back—Looking Beyond—Gang Strategies in the Wider Context, Kim promotes community engagement with gangs as being essential. Within that, he believes a multi-stranded strategy is likely to be the most effective. It is his belief that one of the most effective ways of changing gang behaviour is to identify within the gangs those groups or individuals who want to change for the better, and to provide them with the opportunities and resources to do so.
I recognise that concepts such as forgiveness, restoration, healing, and peace are not nearly as likely to achieve the same attention as punchy headlines that talk tough about locking up gangs and sending thugs out to exile. But we have to move past the talk of harassment, vigilante action, and angry outbursts. We need to reconsider the fuller meaning of justice as being essentially in line with human rights, and to invest in policy and practice that treats all people with dignity and respect. There is no dispute that violent offending, stand-over tactics, criminal assaults, and intimidation have no place in our society. But what we do dispute is the appropriate way of responding to such behaviour.
This bill, in targeting a particular group of citizens, will do little to habilitate those who need help in order to help themselves. It does nothing to address youth gangs. It fails to provide tangible alternatives to gang life. It is inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. The sections on freedom of association and freedom of expression damage any credibility we might consider we in this country have on human rights issues. It is top-heavy, in enabling an inappropriate use of by-law powers. But, most of all, we have no confidence or reason to believe that prohibitions work. What does work is community debate and strategic action to address the issues of public safety, and to put in place strategies that will work in confronting family and community violence. We will not support this bill, and we are greatly saddened that such proposals, which emerge from a climate of distrust and anger, are now taking up the air time of this House.
Hon RODNEY HIDE (Minister of Local Government)
: I rise to speak on this bill. As I understand it, whether this bill succeeds or fails today will swing on my vote. It is certainly something that we have been discussing at length.
First up, I should say to Mr Chester Borrows that he has done an outstanding job as an MP and certainly as a parliamentarian of answering my questions and our party’s questions on this bill. Certainly, Wanganui is very, very lucky to have the hard-working MP Mr Chester Borrows. There are not many MPs who can shuttle a bill through to its third reading on behalf of their electorate. I should also, as Minister of Local Government, congratulate Mayor Michael Laws. He has done everything by the book, in terms of a local government bill, and has gone further and run a referendum to sample the will of the people of Wanganui as to their view on this issue.
I stand here as a libertarian, which means I believe that the fundamental job of Parliament and of a Government is to protect our freedoms, and in particular to protect the freedoms of minority groups. It is not enough for a majority to oppose what a minority might think, what a minority might wear, and how a minority might behave.
The actual minority’s interests and rights have to be protected; that is why we have the law. Accordingly, I said on the first reading of this bill that I could not support it. I said that I never would. I said that the law should be concerned not with what gangs wear, but with their behaviour—their bullying, their violence, and their intimidation.
We have engaged in a heck of a debate within our caucus and with the members of our party. I have listened carefully and I have gone through everyone’s contribution on the issue. I listened with particular care to what Mr Keith Locke had to say. Much of what he had to say resonated with me—that we do not want to be in a society that regulates what one can wear. I just wish Mr Locke had followed that principle through and voted against the Electoral Finance Bill, which has seen me come under police investigation because of my yellow jacket.
Hon Member: You’re the one who put the complaint forward.
Hon RODNEY HIDE: No, I never put a complaint through.
Hon Darren Hughes: Yes, you did.
Hon RODNEY HIDE: No I did not. The police have it under active engagement. A party—in fact, two parties—voted for a law to make it a crime for me to wear my yellow jacket. So I find it a bit rich when those members say that gangs have a right to wear whatever jackets they like, but Rodney Hide does not. I find that a bit rich.
But here is where it gets interesting—and this is why it is tough for us, for our caucus, and for our party. Clearly, in a free society people cannot just go up and bash other people in the face. Clearly we cannot do that—that is against the law. Likewise, one cannot go up to other people and threaten to bash them. Even though no one has engaged in the physical violence of the threat, that cannot be done, because that is intimidatory behaviour. The question we have to address here—and it is about a line to be drawn—is whether in fact the wearing of a gang patch is in itself intimidation—akin to threatening to hurt someone, and akin to saying “I am going to throw a punch.” That is the question we have to resolve. Clearly, we outlaw intimidation.
That is why we despatched Mr David Garrett to Wanganui to talk to people, and in particular to ask some very basic questions. Here is one question: why do we need to criminalise the wearing of gang patches? Clearly, we do not want to criminalise the wearing of a yellow jacket, as Labour and the Greens did. And the answer came back—
Hon Annette King: Oh, it’s all about Rodney.
Hon Darren Hughes: It’s all about Rodney!
Hon RODNEY HIDE: I find that a bit rich coming from Labour members. They jumped up and down wanting to hear my views, but when I try to give them they try to shout me down.
The answer came back that the wearing of gang patches in public, particularly by people in a group, frequently precipitates violence because the gang code makes it virtually obligatory upon other gang members to rumble when they come across patched gang members of a rival gang. So everyone in Wanganui knows that if a gang patch is on display, and another gang member comes along, there will be a fight. That is the code under which those gangs live. If rivals come across one another when not patched, they can abuse one another and shout at one another, but they do not automatically resort to physical violence, because their gang code does not require it. There have been problems, like the example outside the Work and Income office in the middle of the day, where the mere action of wearing a gang patch has seen a fight break out. The people of Wanganui know this, and that is why they want this particular bill.
The question was put to the police: “Will you enforce the law?”. That was a legitimate question that we asked, and that Labour asked: “Will it be enforced?”. We also asked whether it would make a difference. The area commander said “Yes, you have my word, it will be enforced.” He said that the police would be looking on closed
circuit television and would be after patched gang members if they breached the bylaw that the city council could make. They had very interesting feedback. In the silly code of the gangs, a member does not want to lose his patch, because that is to lose all his status. Gang members themselves have said that if this law passes into effect, they will not wear their patches. Why? Because then they would run the risk of losing them.
Hon Darren Hughes: Oh, so the gangs are telling you want to do.
Hon RODNEY HIDE: Oh, poor Darren! I tell that member to listen. I gave Labour members the greatest respect in listening to them, and to Mr Keith Locke. Gang members themselves have said that they will not wear their patches if this bill becomes law.
That is about gang members fighting one another, which in a way they can do. But what is the effect on other people? Is there intimidation from the patch for people? The answer to that was clear, and it was explained in this example. In popular public parks, such as the well-known Disneyland-themed children’s playground, the mere arrival of one patched gang member will see families leave with their children, because they are intimidated. They know that the arrival of one patched gang member could precipitate another gang member into causing a fight, because that is the experience of those families. Interestingly, the arrival of a gang member without the patch will not cause that intimidation. It is not the look that causes the intimidation; it is the patch. I say that it is a tough line to draw, but, clearly, in this example, the wearing of a patch on a jacket is intimidation of law-abiding citizens.
I am prepared to give the good people of Wanganui the opportunity to make a law so that they can choose how they want to live, so that the police can enforce the law, and people live free of the intimidation and the fear that they have been suffering. They have my vote.
LYNNE PILLAY (Labour)
: Before I start my speech I acknowledge the Deaf community, and also the interpreters, who are doing a great job in this House today. It is great to see them here. I will open my speech by acknowledging Chester Borrows, because I know that Chester, who is the chair of the Justice and Electoral Committee I sit on, has the best of intentions in bringing this bill forward before this House—as, indeed, does the Wanganui District Council. I have no doubt that although we may not always agree with what the mayor from Wanganui says, certainly on this occasion I do not think that anyone in this House has any doubt that the council’s intentions are very honourable in bringing this bill before the House. However, in practice, Labour members are being very straight-up in saying that we cannot support the bill, for the very clear and simple reason that it just will not work. This bill is at odds with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, and that in itself is a very, very sound reason, certainly, to have serious misgivings about it, if not to fail to support it. I acknowledge and congratulate the new members in ACT, because they seem to be very powerful members. They have managed to persuade—
Hon Annette King: Rolled your leader!
LYNNE PILLAY: They have managed to roll the leader, says my colleague. I can see them smiling very happily—
Hon Darren Hughes: They love it.
LYNNE PILLAY: —they are loving this. The member Rodney Hide is not looking—
Hon Rodney Hide: I’m as happy as a sandboy.
LYNNE PILLAY: He is as happy as a sandboy, too.
Hon Member: He’s a Minister now.
LYNNE PILLAY: He is a Minister; he has the baubles of office, and all he had to do was support this bit of legislation. I am actually going to read what Mr Hide did say
in April 2008, which is a year ago. We all know that a week is a long time in politics, but in a year—the change in the member’s mind during that time has been extraordinary. Back in April 2008 he said “I am so pleased”—pleased—“that Mr Chester Borrows has relieved me of the obligation of voting for this shocking Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill. I said that the ACT Party would vote for the bill to go to a select committee. We could never vote for its third reading, but I thought the debate could be useful.”
Hon Member: He can’t really have said that.
LYNNE PILLAY: He did say that—he did. That is what he said. From there, we can look at the history—
Hon Annette King: What’s the payback?
LYNNE PILLAY: Well, I think it is the baubles of office—
Hon Member: Three strikes.
LYNNE PILLAY: That is right—three strikes. We will see that bill go through, and it will be very interesting—
Hon Member: That’s going to a committee.
LYNNE PILLAY: It is going to a committee. We know the history of the bill. It was introduced in 22 November 2007, the first reading was on 16 April, and Labour supported it. We believed that the public had a right to have a say on the bill and that it should go to the scrutiny of a select committee. So it was supported by Labour, National, New Zealand First, Mr Copeland, and Mr Field. It was opposed by the Greens, the Māori Party, ACT, and Progressive. Following the select committee and the second reading, National, United Future—and who else came to the table to make it happen? It was the ACT Party. I have to say it was the blokes in the ACT Party. I would really like to see Heather Roy take a call on this, because she said some really—
David Garrett: She’s in Australia.
LYNNE PILLAY: They are gadabouts—the ACT Party—are they not?
Simon Bridges: Lynne Pillay hasn’t been on any taxpayer-funded trips, has she?
Hon Darren Hughes: Ethiopia—keep quiet!
LYNNE PILLAY: It beats dancing. I am going to quote Heather Roy because I know that if she were here—and what a trick to send Heather Roy, the only one with any logic in the ACT Party, off on a trip—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: You cannot refer to someone who is not here.
LYNNE PILLAY: They did. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: And it has gone on for a while, sorry.
LYNNE PILLAY: I would be very, very pleased if Heather Roy took a call, but in the absence of her doing that I will quote from her speech: “The move to outlaw gangs, their patches and tattoos is nothing more than a ploy to give the appearance of action—a ploy that will yield no results or benefits to New Zealand society in the long-term struggle to deal with the country’s gang problem.” I think that is a very sound statement, and I commend Heather Roy. I would dearly love her to take a call on the bill. If we look at what could happen under this legislation, the best-case scenario would be—and it will happen—that gangs will not wear their insignia. But does that change their behaviour and where they go? Rodney Hide said that that in itself was intimidating. I ask this House whether that changes the behaviour of gangs. Does that stop the intimidation? Does that stop the violence? No, it does not. The next-case scenario is to ask how hard it will be for the police resources to enforce this action. How much police resource will there be?
I want to pay tribute to the police and to the work they do in terms of dealing with violence in our society. We are going to see good police resources go into running around saying to gangs “No, no, no, out of here. Move on. Not in our backyard, not in
Wanganui, not in this part of the town.”, and moving the gangs on. That is just not going to do anything. The criminal proceeds legislation in this House, which was introduced under the Labour Government, addresses gang actions and does something tangible to stop the work that they do. But this bill does nothing about that; it addresses the problem of gang dress code—not violence, and not criminal gang activity. We all know that the more we push something underground, the more glamorous and sexy it becomes. Believe me, everybody in this House would empathise with any parent whose child—generally a son—gets involved in a gang because it is very glamorous, and the insignia attracts them. This bill is not going to do anything. Naming gangs, giving them that status is, if anything, going to create glamour around the occupation. This bill does not bring about real change; it is simply window dressing.
Hon Annette King: As Heather Roy said.
LYNNE PILLAY: As Heather Roy said. I talked about families who are affected, and I want to use the last part of my speech to acknowledge that. I do not think this legislation is frivolous. It was brought in with the best of intentions because people were hurting. I empathise with every family who has a member of their family who has been involved in gangs and who has been sucked into the gang world. I know that that would be one of the worst things that can happen. I empathise with every family who has in any way been part of or suffered violence from gangs—whether it be intimidation, or whether it be violence that has affected a family member. Our empathy is with all of those families. But we say: “Let us bring in legislation that tackles crime—
Hon Rodney Hide: Where is it?
LYNNE PILLAY: “Where is it?” asks Rodney Hide. The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Bill, which we saw—at last—on the Order Paper under this Government, and which went through this House, is legislation that has teeth and tackles crime. But all this bill will do is move the problem. At best, if it succeeds in what it is intended to do, it will move the problem from one backyard into another, and that does nothing towards the safety and security of New Zealanders.
SIMON BRIDGES (National—Tauranga)
: It is very good to take a call on the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill. I have had the pleasure of speaking to it at every stage since I have been in Parliament. But how rich it is of Labour members to come along today and accuse the ACT Party and the Hon Rodney Hide of a flip-flop, when Labour voted for this bill at its first reading. What has changed in the intervening period between the time they voted for it and now when they are voting against it? I will tell members what has changed—it has become more New Zealand Bill of Rights Act - friendly, and that is about it. The bill became more New Zealand Bill of Rights Act - friendly; the substance did not change very much at all. But have Labour members explained their flip-flop, and why they changed—not at all. I do not think Lynne Pillay, the previous speaker, knows the answer.
I tell the Hon Rodney Hide that he gave a very thoughtful speech, which I was appreciative to hear. He explained very well his change of position, and if I have the time I will come back to mention some of the very thoughtful points he made in his speech.
One of the criticisms that Labour members have made—certainly in other readings, and I think today—is that if this bill is such a good idea, why is it a local bill; why is it not a general bill? In the Law and Order Committee this morning we had some very interesting submissions from Greg O’Connor, and others in the Police Association, in relation to different legislation—the Gangs and Organised Crime Bill. The general point that Mr O’Connor made was absolutely right; gangs have got more sophisticated. They are no longer always the gangs we think of—in their patches, with prominent gang pads, and with barbed wire fences. But he also made it very clear that in some provinces
in this country, that is still the modus operandi of the gangs. It is still the way organised crime works; it is still about patched-up thugs with gang pads and barbed wire. So it is quite clear. He said—to paraphrase, and I agree with him—that, yes, gangs are changing. Organised crime in this country is changing. Some gangs have become more sophisticated, but others, in places like—can I say—Wanganui, have not changed. It is quite clear that in Wanganui, which this local bill is about, and from where this local bill draws its strength, we are still dealing with old-style gangs and thugs.
On a related point, it is right that this bill is a local bill. The bill is also a victory for local democracy; it is a victory for the people of Wanganui. I am aware of some of the concerns expressed in this House in relation to this bill, but I say that we should respect the will of the local people of Wanganui. Overwhelmingly, as the Hon Rodney Hide and David Garrett said, in their speeches in the House, the process followed with this bill was perfect. The mayor held a referendum, and the Wanganui community gave its full support for the introduction of this local bill to ban gang insignia. No one is saying that this bill will be some sort of silver bullet that will solve the scourge of gangs in this nation, or even in the city of Wanganui, but it is a tool in the tool box that will make a difference. I say that even if this bill were imperfect I would still support it, because it is the will of the people in the area that is affected by this problem.
Hon Members: Oh, come on!
SIMON BRIDGES: I say that this bill will work. Let us go through the list of people who support it—that is, the mayor; the district council; the local MP, who has done an outstanding job in marshalling this bill through its stages in the House; and the police area commander and the police, who have signed documents making it clear they think the bill will work and will be a tool in their tool box. I remind Labour members that having a referendum is called democracy. The people of Wanganui supported this bill. Even if the bill were imperfect I would support it, but I say again that although it is not a silver bullet, the banning of gang insignia in this area of Wanganui is a tool in the police’s tool box and will help them deal with the problem.
As I say, since Labour voted for and supported the introduction of the bill, it has actually become more New Zealand Bill of Rights Act - friendly. It has been amended in many respects. At the Law and Order Committee, Labour members wanted to keep the tattoos provision in the bill. That is how New Zealand Bill of Rights Act - friendly they are! They wanted to keep tattoos in, and it took a National Government to get rid of that clearly quite ridiculous provision whereby people with permanent marks would have been injuriously affected by the bill. We have changed that provision, because the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act does matter.
We have also changed the bill so that people will not be affected if they are simply wearing a patch. It is the “displaying” of the patch that matters; it is flaunting the patch in public. That is what this bill is attached to and concerned about. So this is a good bill; it meets the localised conditions.
Hon Annette King: Well, give it to the people of Tauranga, then.
SIMON BRIDGES: To answer Annette King, and to ask whether it would work in Tauranga, I say we should be very clear that this is a local bill for a reason. This bill is not about central Auckland. They do not have the issues of gang-patched people walking around. In Mount Maunganui we do not have patched gang members walking around every day of the week. So I am saying that this bill is a step in the right direction to deal with the local conditions of Wanganui, and it is a tool in the tool box.
I come back to something that the Hon Rodney Hide said, which I thought was a very perceptive comment in relation to this bill. He made it quite clear that at the start of this debate he was concerned about what gangs did, not what they wore. But he is absolutely right today when he says in this House that the wearing of a gang patch is an
act—it is an intimidation. Gang members change when they put on a gang patch. They are no longer cuddly members of whānau, with children. They are no longer lovers, workers; they become patched gang members. They take on the intimidation, they take on the hatred, and they take on the thuggery of the gang they belong to; the patch signifies they are a part of that gang. This bill goes towards dealing with that significant problem in Wanganui. Without wanting to get emotive, I tell members that people have died because they were wearing the wrong colours and the wrong gang insignia. This bill is no silver bullet, but I am confident that it will make a good difference in the city of Wanganui.
KELVIN DAVIS (Labour)
Mr Deputy Speaker, me tīmata pēnei ahau. I te tuatahi mihi kau atu ki te mema mō Whanganui nāna nei i kōkiritia, i kawe mai tēnei pire ki te Whare. I was saying I would like to acknowledge the member for Whanganui, who has brought the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill to the House.
I want to make it clear that I resent gangs. I resent the way gang members look, talk, and behave. I resent the lifestyles they lead, which are based on crime, drugs, and intimidation. I resent their “I don’t give a damn about anyone or anything else.” attitude. There is little I can say that is positive about the gang lifestyle; in fact, there is nothing I can say that is positive about the gang lifestyle.
I guess that what I resent the most is that gangs predominantly rob Māori of their language and culture, and substitute their own warped version of what Māori culture is. That version is usually based on a misguided notion of Māori being warriors and hard men. Māori men need to shed ourselves of that misguided, ignorant image and show the world that we are intelligent, sensible, hard-working, and caring members of our society. The
Once Were Warriors image of Māori men is, unfortunately, in many instances an accurate portrayal, and for the sake of future generations of Māori men we need to break free of that delusion.
Gang members have such low self-esteem and such a low opinion of themselves that the way they compensate for that is to try to make other people feel worse than them. They do that by resorting to violence and intimidation. As a former schoolteacher, I saw that behaviour manifest itself in children at the school I was teaching at.
When I was in form 2 I was going to school in Moerewa. In particular, I remember a day in August 1979 when 40 or 50 members of the Storm Troopers gang rioted in that town. They destroyed a fire engine, fought with police, set a police van alight, and attempted to throw an injured policeman into that burning vehicle. I remember the fear, the uncertainty, the loathing, the accusations, and the recriminations. The riot divided that town. It is one of the enduring images of my childhood, not least because I had uncles in the police force and I had cousins in the gangs. I have seen how gangs have robbed members of my extended whānau of aspiration, and I resent that.
I was principal of a school that had a fledging gang problem, with mini-gangsters setting themselves up under stupid names represented by three-letter acronyms such as WCB, for the West Coast Boys, or LRC, for the Lake Road Crew. I watched the behaviour of those kids, and as principal I banned it. Those kids were not allowed to wear their scarves or beanies, or to do their little hand signs, or to talk in three-letter acronyms, or even to walk around in groups of more than three. But do you think the gang problem stopped? No, it did not. It just became less overt in the presence of adults. The kids changed the signs, the acronyms, and the scarves. The kids found ways round the bans, and if they can do that, so can adult gang members in Whanganui.
The symbolic act of banning gang insignia in Whanganui will not, in my opinion, make an iota of difference to the gang problem. It will not change the lifestyle of gang members, their association with crime, drugs, and intimidation; nor will it change their “I don’t give a damn about anyone else.” attitude. If the Wanganui District Council, and
New Zealanders generally for that matter, are serious about resolving the real issue—that is, the existence of gangs full stop—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member, but the time has come for me to leave the chair for the dinner break.
- Sitting suspended from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.
KELVIN DAVIS: If the Wanganui District Council, and New Zealanders in general for that matter, are serious about resolving the real issue—the existence of gangs, full stop—then we need to be a lot more focused on addressing the conditions that cause gangs to flourish. These include academic underachievement and disengagement from school, which lead to disengagement from society, as well as domestic violence, unemployment, poverty, and the myriad other social issues that encourage people to form and join gangs.
The Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill is a well-intentioned and well-meaning bill, and I personally do not disagree with cracking down on gangs. But I believe that the bill is a classic example of bottom-of-the-cliff thinking, and it will not address the root cause of the problem. In fact, I doubt that it will address the issue that it is trying to address—that is, the prohibition of gang regalia in certain parts of Whanganui. Just like students at the school where I last worked, gang members will constantly work out ways to get round the ban, or, more than likely, they will disregard it totally. They will continue to wear their regalia and will challenge the authorities to do something about it. I think the signs that will be erected in the protected parts of town to say that no gang regalia are allowed will not last terribly long. I can see the legislation coming back to the House for us to amend parts of it to close the loopholes that gang members will have no doubt found.
If the ban on gang insignia actually does work and certain parts of Whanganui do become free of gang regalia, the reality is that it will simply be a case of out of sight, out of mind for the lucky people who live in those designated parts of town. Gangs and gang-related crime will still exist. This bill will not stop gang members from walking down the street decked out in some form of gang regalia, insignia, colours, or apparel. If a gang member were to walk down the street in a suit and tie but with the words “Mongrel Mob” or “Black Power” tattooed across his forehead, would that make him any less intimidating or his intentions any less noble? I doubt it. This bill may address the gang dress code, but does it address gang violence, gang drug activity, or any other criminal activity? We will see gang members take off their patches, if they have to and if they are asked to, and then their gang T-shirts, only to see that their patches are tattooed on their backs, which we can already see happening around the country. What will happen then? What is the difference between an insignia tattooed on someone’s back and an insignia on his clothing? John Key made a hard-hitting statement in May 2008: “Today, I’m sending a warning to every single P dealer, every P manufacturer, and every gang involved in the P trade: National will not put up with your criminal activity.” He said that National would crack down on gangs and would target and undermine criminal gangs. He did not say that this call to action was about making gang members undress themselves.
I want the people of Whanganui to be safe from the influences of gangs. I want the people of Whanganui to be able to walk their streets without fear. I want the kids to be able to sleep at night and to be able to play in the parks and mingle around shops. I want the Whanganui Māori to continue to connect with their language and culture, not the language and culture of gangs. I want them to continue to be proud, upstanding, successful, wealthy, healthy, contributing members of the Whanganui community. I want Whanganui to continue to be a proud city, a safe and peaceful city, where all
citizens, Māori and Pākehā, live harmoniously together. I just do not see that this bill will achieve any of those aims. It is a sticking-plaster approach to an issue that is a festering hakihaki. This bill does not address the issue; it just applies new plasters.
The only way for Whanganui to truly be rid of gang activity and criminal activity, and for residents to feel safe on the streets of their town, is to address the underlying social problems. In fact, that is the solution for all towns and cities the length and breadth of the country, be they Kaitāia, Whangarei, Auckland, or Timaru. When I was a school principal, we found that when we addressed the underlying causes of poor academic achievement and disengagement from school, we started to make a difference to the whole tone and well-being of the school. This flowed on in a number of ways into the whole community. Those underlying causes were not addressed by punitive measures and sticking-plaster solutions; rather, the solutions were based on our understanding what the actual causes of the problem were and finding meaningful and durable remedies. That, I believe, is what the Wanganui District Council and this Parliament should be doing. That is why I do not believe that this bill will be successful, and why I therefore cannot support it. Kia ora.
AARON GILMORE (National)
: I rise to support the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill. This is an important bill, especially for the people of Wanganui. It is a local bill for the good folks of Wanganui, and it has been drafted for local conditions—so much so that the people of Wanganui want it and support it in significant numbers. A majority of people support it, in fact. As I understand it, the bill has the support of 65 percent of the good people of Wanganui. Few laws in this land pass with 65 percent support.
Such support in the community exists because the people of Wanganui experienced a horrific occurrence—the horrific homicide of Jhia Te Tua. The homicide moved the good people of Wanganui. A 2-year-old child was lost to the world as the result of a gang revenge attack. Six gang members were charged with this despicable crime, and it moved the good people of Wanganui so much that they came up with this bill. The bill will ban gang insignia in signposted areas as directed by council by-law. The definition of “gang insignia” covers signs, symbols, and representations—things like that—and items of clothing that have representations attached.
I will now talk a little about my own experiences with gang insignia. The streets I grew up in in Christchurch were frequented by gangs. When my family moved to a house in Parklands after spending many years in Aranui, I thought we had left the gangs behind—but, no, we had not. We lived at No. 18, which was about midway down the street. My parents still live there. We lived down a long driveway. At one end of my street was a gang house that was home to the notorious white supremacy gang the Harris Brothers. At the other end of my street lived Mangu Kaha, the local branch of the Black Power gang. When I went to pick up the milk money every morning and every night I used to pat myself to check that no one had stolen it. My parents told me that it was my job to protect the milk money from the local gangs.
Having two gangs in the street was despicable. The Harris Brothers gang was a bunch of bad people.
Hon Rodney Hide: I lived down the road from them. They were horrible.
AARON GILMORE: We will get to that. It is an interesting story.
Hon Rodney Hide: I lived in Hoon Hay Road, just around the corner.
AARON GILMORE: That is right. Boy, did we have some fun in our street because of those gangs! Every kid in our street was bullied into supporting one or other of those gangs. Many were forced into wearing colours. I can remember the gang raps of Ice-T, Public Enemy, and many others that became the poetry of our street. I recall one poem vividly: “My colors, my honour, my colors, my all, with my colors upon me, one soldier
stands tall … I am a nightmare walking, psychopath talking, king of my jungle, just a gangster stalking.” Those are the words the gangs in my street used on a daily basis. I saw that attitude every day when I was growing up. It is that attitude towards gang insignia that the good people of Wanganui have stepped up to do something about. The locals have been heavily consulted on about this bill. They want to try to stop gangs and are prepared to do something to achieve that.
My own experience with gangs saw my street become a gangland war zone. Kids with the wrong colours got bashed when they were walking home from school, including members of my own family, who were bashed for wearing the wrong colours while walking down my street. Kids were too scared to go to school, or they travelled with large groups for safety. For 3 years running, my street was named the most dangerous place to live in Christchurch. I wish we had had a bill like this then. It would have stopped truancy, broken limbs, and tears. It would have given some hope to the kids going to school or to the local shops that if they were part of some legitimate club they were not going to be identified and bashed by one of those two gangs just because they were wearing blue CanTeen kids’ bandannas or local rugby club caps. The red and blue colours of the two gangs were such strong colours that the colour of our local league club, Parklands, was purple. As members will know, purple is a mix of red and blue. The local league club made its colours purple because it represents the mix of the red and blue coming together.
This bill might not solve the problem of gangs, but it might. It might solve this problem. In my community, where I returned to live a few years ago, we were saved from gangs because of changing economic circumstances, as the member for Epsom, Rodney Hide, was talking about before. One gang in my street won Lotto and left the area. They won $1 million. It was the Harris Brothers gang—the associates the member for Epsom talked about before. They left for the other side of town. They left my street and disappeared, and I was happy about that. My family was happy, the street was happy, and the neighbourhood was happy. There was no more fighting over turf, the other gang did not feel like wearing patches in our local neighbourhood, and the problems went away.
This bill might be the winning Lotto ticket for the good people of Wanganui. It might be able to keep some gangs away from violence. This bill will probably not stop gangs—it will not stop them outright—but it will ensure that gangs will not be able to promote themselves openly. They will not be able to strut around like peacocks in their colours. They will not be able to bash some poor kid simply because he or she was forced to wear a gang colour and found himself or herself in the wrong part of the city, street, or town. If this bill does that for even one kid, then it would make his or her family happy and that kid happy, and I think the good people of Wanganui would feel collectively that it is a better place.
Let us now talk about the concerns that were raised on some parts of this bill. There are concerns about minor issues of interpretation and implementation. The Opposition over there has criticised those areas of the bill and puts them forward as reasons why this bill should not go ahead. Well, this bill has been designed for and implemented by the good people of Wanganui. It is their bill, and they, by an overwhelming number, want it. This bill creates signposted areas to be put forward by local by-laws to create neutral turf for gangs, and areas where one is not a gang member but a citizen—a citizen of Wanganui and of New Zealand—and one of the good people of Wanganui.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Who wrote this rubbish? Who wrote this speech?
AARON GILMORE: I wrote it. The bill allows for plenty of latitude for local police to modify over time how the law will operate. This allows the community to feel safe and not be intimidated by the presence of a gang patch. If gang patches are
removed, people can begin to respect each other for who they are, not for the patch they wear. That is a positive step in the right direction.
This bill, importantly, does not create fear; it reduces it. Removing the potential for people to be afraid of what they see represented by a gang patch will reduce fear in the good people of Wanganui, and I applaud that, having grown up in the climate of a community where gangs pranced around like peacocks and, as per my quote earlier, saw their colours as badges of pride. Their patches are the IDs of their army. The gangs see themselves as soldiers, not criminals. If we can reduce a little of that arrogance, then this entire House should support the bill.
The hard-working local member for Wanganui, Mr Chester Borrows, put forward this bill as a local bill. Not all gang members are criminals, and not all gang members wear patches—but many do. The good people of Wanganui believe that this bill may help fix the problem. It is part of a tool box of other things that will help fix the problems that exist in gangland Wanganui. I say to people that if the majority of people in Wanganui want the ability to have this tool to help fix their gang problems, then I applaud that. Who are we to deny them when an overwhelming number—65 percent—of the good people of Wanganui want this tool box in order to be able to control their own problems and to keep out the patches that exist in their neighbourhoods?
If this bill works in Wanganui, it may create a model that other communities may be interested in. Other communities may be worried about gangs, the patches they wear, and the culture of fear that is created by their wearing of the gang patches. If time and time again we see that this bill works, then I will look forward to the members on the other side of the House commenting that the bill is a good tool and that it does work. I believe that this bill will work. I believe it because of my own experience in a local environment. I saw what happened with two gangs in my community. When one left and the other stopped wearing gang patches, the violence stopped. That is the reason why I commend this bill to the House.
A party vote was called for on the question,
That the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill be now read a third time.
||New Zealand National 58; ACT New Zealand (Boscawen, Garrett, Hide)3; United Future 1.
||New Zealand Labour 42; Green Party 9; ACT New Zealand (Roy, Douglas) 2; Māori Party 5; Progressive 1.
|Bill read a third time.