Exclusive: Gang violence decreasing across NZ

Violent crime involving gang members is decreasing nationally.

Figures released to Newshub show violent crime, including homicide, kidnapping, abduction, assault and domestic violent have all decreased in relation to gangs - in some places, significantly.

Things have changed since the days of Once Were Warriors, says lifetime Black Power member Denis O'Reilly.

"My own experience is that it's a lot less violent out there than it was in the 1970s, where we had the big pubs and Jake the Muss wandering around town."

The country's gang watchdog says new recruits are "more driven" these days, and have different motivations.

"They're drawn to the flashiness of the gangs, the big ticket items that come with it," says Cathy Toi-Cassidy from the Gang Intelligence Centre. "Designer gear, flash vehicles, motorbikes."

But Mr O'Reilly says he wouldn't go that far.

"All I see are rotting teeth, stink cars, mouldy houses and not very good lifestyles."

Exclusive: Gang violence decreasing across NZ
Photo credit: Newshub.

Whichever way you look at it, official figures released to Newshub show that nationally, the number of violent offences involving gang members or prospects has dropped by 10 percent since 2014.

Broken down into police areas, the biggest drop of nearly 30 percent comes from the Tairāwhiti and Hawkes Bay area - but there's an increase of 40 percent in the Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu area.

Interestingly, when you look at a list of all the gangs involved in violent crime in New Zealand, not all are homegrown.

"You'll know that there's been some deportees that have come over," says Ms Toi-Cassidy.

"We've had Australian gangs who have come over and set up chapters here, but we only gather statistics on New Zealand gangs."

As part of its brief, the Gang Intelligence Centre has spent four years gathering this new information.

Another part of the Centre's brief is crime prevention, but so far it has offered no reason for why gang-related violent crime has dropped so significantly.