Second meth epidemic grips New Zealand

(Getty / file)
(Getty / file)

Two senior Black Power members have told Newshub the country is in the grip of its second P epidemic.

Life member Denis O'Reilly has been trying to get gang members off meth for years, but concedes some chapters that had stopped making and using the drug have gone back to it, and huge supply means it's getting cheaper.

The Government's own research backs up the assertion.

A Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet report shows the drug has become easier to get in the past year, especially in Christchurch.

It also says meth seizures "have increased significantly and continue to do so" - in fact, they're at record levels.

Tests also show the purity of the drug in New Zealand is very high. Maximum purity is 80 percent and New Zealand meth has an average purity of 73 percent.

A former Black Power president says the meth crisis is as bad as it's ever been.

"It's nearly on every street corner," he says. "It's accessible for anyone."

He's staunchly against the drug and has had some success getting Black Power members off the pipe.

But he says the situation has deteriorated. The problems come from both those manufacturing it and those selling it, and he says it's gotten worse in recent years.

Despite this, he won't leave the gang, saying he can achieve more remaining in it.

"Walking away from the problem is not solving it. Not for my families, not for my brotherhood," he says.

"I don't hate my bros. I love my brotherhood. But I hate that shit."

He's supported by Black Power life member Denis O'Reilly, who's been trying to get members off drugs and into housing and work.

But he says he's facing increasing resistance.

"[It's] very serious. We are into what I would say is our second methamphetamine epidemic," says Mr O'Reilly.

"We've had a product relaunch and that is massive supply, perhaps in the distribution chain, and better deal for people midway down the chain."

That'll mean a return to old habits, he says.

"[It's] very frustrating. It's because people have been re-seduced back into use."

Part of the problem is Black Power, he agrees, but the gang is also part of the solution.

"It's those of us who hold each other accountable," says Mr O'Reilly.

"We are hearing from different people - from treatment services and other people - that use might be increasing," says Drug Foundation Chief Executive Ross Bell.

"And I think if we do have gangs like Black Power saying the same thing then we should be taking notice."

Mr O'Reilly's message to users within the gang is blunt. 

"The consequences are pretty obvious for you. You will have ill health, possibly an early grave, [and] highly likely jail."

Mr O'Reilly says the struggle against the pervasive nature of the drug is constant, but he isn't about to give up.