Rival gangs uniting to mobilise 'gang vote' a positive sign - sociologist

A gang expert says it can only be a positive sign rival gang members have united to encourage members to vote in the upcoming election.

In the past, members of Black Power, the Mongrel Mob, Nomads and the Tribesmen have been fierce rivals, but Dr Jarrod Gilbert, sociologist at the University of Canterbury, says as members age, they are becoming more engaged in society. 

The gangs joined forces in Wainuiomata on Saturday to make a political statement, urging members to enrol to vote. 

Gang members at the event told Newshub they were uniting for the good of their children.

Patched Mongrel Mob member Harry Tam
Harry Tam says gang members are concerned about their children (Screengrab/Newshub)

"I think it's a continuation of a slow but pretty incredible trend of gangs drawing themselves out of the shadows," Dr Gilbert told Newshub.

"The average age [of gang members] is increasing significantly. We've got some older men in the gangs now, and I think they are beginning to engage with society actively. In the past they actively turned their back on it - in fact, they rejected it - and when they could, they attacked it."

Dr Jarrod Gilbert (Newshub)
Dr Jarrod Gilbert (Newshub)

Dr Gilbert says there have always been pockets of cooperation between gangs, and it makes sense.

"The demographic make-up of those groups are identical. The problems they face are identical. It just so happens they've become tribal and see each other as the enemy."

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox spoke at the event. She told Newshub the Government's gang strategy, such as banning patches and regalia from being worn in public spaces, isn't working.

"I think too many people are tarred with the same brush. We're here to help because those are our people," Ms Fox said.