The police association reports gang membership has gone up 26 percent in two years, with almost 1400 new members.
On Friday's episode of The Project, host Jesse Mulligan had an important question about the numbers.
"Well, what did we expect?" he questioned.
"What did we think was going to happen when we had people sleeping in cars for years, or working two jobs and not spending time with their families? What did we think would happen to those kids?
"There is a connection between poverty and where people end up," Mulligan continued.
- Police face new challenge as organised crime moves to the regions
- Female Mongrel Mob chapter members won't wear back patches
"So the next time you hear someone saying we should put benefits up, actually those things are connected."
While some experts think our gangs are growing due to Australian deportees, others believe we have to solve our own problems before we blame others.
Filipa Payne, a detainee advocate, says its scaremongering to accuse Australian deportees of causing the increase.
"Out of 1700 people deported from Australia less than 30 are gang members," she told The Project.
"I believe the New Zealand police should be looking at our own situation - high poverty and our housing situation."
Canterbury University criminal justice director Jarrod Gilbert agrees, saying there needs to be a new strategy because running gangs out of town doesn't work.
"[It's] been talked about by politicians for decades and it's never worked. Because [gang members] have had the hardest lives you can imagine and anything we can do to them isn't going to be half as bad as what they've had," he said.
"If anything it's just going to bind them together, so we need a new way because the old way isn't working."
Watch the full video.