Kawerau shooting throws town back under crime cloud

Police involved in the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Mongrel Mob member in Kawerau are now on trauma leave, as investigations continue.

A 29-year-old Mongrel Mob member was shot dead by officers yesterday after firing a weapon at a family member and then robbing a bank.

Those in the once-troubled town want you to know things are actually improving - but for locals, it's going to hurt for some time.

Sgt Al Fenwick says everyone is connected to the shooting in some way. 

"In a small town everyone has some small connection to what happened yesterday, it just adds to the tragedy really, it has affected everyone."

That includes local police, with a number of officers now placed on mandatory trauma leave.

Sgt Fenwick has been leading the charge on crime here for five years now. He says what happened is tragic, but he's proud of his staff.

"To me it just highlighted how important the work we're doing to get rid of meth here is. It just shows the insidious effect it has on the community."

Last night a scene examination took place, and the man's body has now been removed.

Police are asking anyone who was on the road between Edgecumbe and Kawerau yesterday morning and saw the incident to come forward. They're hoping any dashcam footage might be able to help the investigation.

In 2016, Kawerau was the scene of a dramatic shootout and 22-hour long siege. Then in September, a large drug bust netted meth, cannabis, and more than $21,000 cash.

Despite that, crime levels are dropping - 10 percent in the last year alone.

One man who has seen it is Councillor and former Mongrel Mob member Warwick Godfrey.

"People are sniffing these opportunities, so our town demographic, attitude, and positive-ness, is most certainly occurring."

The opportunities Mr Godfrey is talking about are new jobs. They're coming from a new dairy, a new rail link, and a container terminal near the town.

He says the town with the country's highest concentration of gang members, is changing.

"When the decisions are join the gang, or go on the dole well then there's not much options, but now we've got options, you know we've got multiple jobs."

But there are still challenges. Yesterday's shooting was a case in point.

Mr Godfrey says the community is rallying behind police and the victim's family.

"I can't fathom or imagine the suffering; we'll do our best to support them."



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