A century ago many Anzacs sacrificed their lives for what they believed was best for the future of women, children and their communities back home.
A hundred years on, gang members are the opposite of these men – women and children at the bottom of their priorities, and the community seen as something to be looted.
Gangs author Ross Kemp says New Zealand has more gangs per head of population than any other country in the world.
Policing in Auckland in the 1990s, I was dealing with gangs I had never heard of growing up in Dunedin: the Head Hunters, Tribesmen, King Cobras and Hells Angels – some seemed like they had passed their heyday.
When I shifted back to Dunedin in the early 2000s, the only local gangs were the Road Knights, Southern Vikings, Mongrel Mob and Black Power.
Fast forward to 2017 and why hasn’t the gang situation improved?
A resurgence of North Island gangs – we’re encountering their presence locally as the South Island becomes a focus for methamphetamine distribution.
The “drift south” of some gangs is being helped by lack of local gang loyalty, as some are quick to ditch their patches for the “grass is greener” offerings from the out-of-town gangs.
The expansion of overseas gangs like the Rebels, and the 1960s Texas-originated “Bandidos”, with their motto “We are the people your parents warned you about”.
The phenomenon of a new generation of youth “feeder” gangs – “Crips and Bloods”-style gangs emulating American gangsta mentality.
Changes to the Australian Migration Act resulting in a six-fold increase in criminals being exported back to New Zealand, many from organised crime groups.
“The Milton Hilton” (Otago Correctional Facility) opening a decade ago and bringing a prison muster capacity of 480 to our area, with its associated gang influence.
A worldwide trend towards cannabis liberalisation has gangs redirecting their resources into the insidious drug methamphetamine, resulting in much greater damage to the community.
Methamphetamine has given the gangs a new lease of life, with an earning potential far outweighing the cannabis trade, and the severe addiction aspect makes for great repeat custom and entrapment into the gang lifestyle.
The feeling of humanity that reverberates so strongly around Anzac Day hopefully shows a modern-day community strong in its values, which will stand steadfastly against the destructive values that gangs represent.
BY KAIKORAI VALLEY COMMUNITY CONSTABLE PAUL KENNEDY