Expert says Killer Beez, Tribesmen gang peace talks a 'tricky' achievement but warns it could be broken

Sam Olley for RNZ

A reported truce between the Killer Beez and Tribesmen is considered an "incredibly tricky" achievement, a gang expert says.

In the past month, tense turf wars in Auckland and Northland have boiled over into gun violence, including 23 gang-related driveby shootings in just a fortnight.

New Zealand Herald readers woke up to a front-page headline today stating a truce had been agreed.

Police would not comment, but community leaders believed there were peace talks last weekend.

Gang researcher Dr Jarrod Gilbert told RNZ that was "a win in itself".

"When groups get together sit down and attempt to work things out when so much violence has occurred, that can be incredibly tricky."

But there were no guarantees a ceasefire would last.

"There have been examples in the past where truces have broken incredibly quickly, and there are other times when they hold."

The violence was not only unsettling for neighbourhoods, but also patched members themselves, he said.

"When you leave your house or get on your motorcycle or just go about your business, and you're worried constantly, worried about getting shot or beaten up. It's a very, very uncomfortable existence. And after a while that pressure too begins to become a bit much."

The Killer Beez and Tribesmen, both established in South Auckland, had a long history, he said.

The Tribesmen had created the Killer Beez to work as a "feeder group", to help the older, more mature group on the streets.

"But over time what occurred was that the young cub became as big as the lion, and was no longer happy to play second fiddle," he said.

"And so that's the underlying tension that exists here."

It was "pure luck" the shootings had not killed someone, Gilbert said.

Former policeman Mānukau councillor Alf Filipaina had been on standby to help mediation.

He understood there were peace talks last weekend.

"I knew that there were some talks happening between our community leaders, as well as the police, and that's been happening for a few weeks. So if it's true - and I've left a message for the boss to ring me - if it's true, well, may they continue."

Labour's Poto Williams, who had been grilled by opposition parties for weeks about gang crime, was stripped of her police portfolio on Monday, but remained in Cabinet.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cited "lost" focus.

Chris Hipkins, who has a degree in criminology, is taking over.

Gilbert said Williams "had a very difficult task".

"To have a more nuanced approach, which is the one that Poto was encouraging, is very, very hard to communicate."

National wants to ban gang members wearing patches in public and block their access to guns.