East Coast police 'absolutely disgusted' by illegal gang behaviour in community

Police on the East Coast say they're "absolutely disgusted" by the illegal behaviour of gang members and are about to crack down on it.

In the past year, there have been 55 gang-related shootings resulting in 20 extra specialist staff being sent to the Tairawhiti and Hawke's Bay areas.

A powerful gun was seized in a Wairoa home. It was found along with 38 rounds of ammunition when police arrived to arrest an occupant.

It comes just days after a shooting in the town and a car was shot at an illegal roadblock.

"We are absolutely disgusted by that behaviour. We are looking to hold anyone who causes harm in our community to account," Inspector Darren Paki said.

Since January 2022, there have been at least 55 gang-related shootings in the Gisborne and Wairoa district. There were seven last month alone.

It's Black Power versus Mongrel Mob. But the targets and the victims aren't just men.

"It is not good enough that five wahine have been shot. One as young as 12," Paki said.

Two of the women shot died.

"It is unacceptable and we are here to address that behaviour. 

"We are here to hold people to account but the difference with this operation is we are focused on preventing further occurrences," he said.

Police have begun Operation Kotare - it means more specialist police on the ground and more initiatives to get whanau and the community involved. 

Newshub witnessed that police presence on Friday morning, where an officer pulled over a car and three young men were taken away.

"I'm over it. Absolutely over it. We are talking about gangs and these guys are downright criminals. They don't give a stuff about anyone who lives in our community. We are over it," Waiora Mayor Craig Little told Newshub.

The Wairoa Mayor doesn't fear the gangs but fears good people will take the law into their own hands.

"What I'm scared of is people are going to retaliate themselves and that's when the issues are going to come about because they will end up locked up," he said. 

"Good people just protecting their loved ones, their whanau. So we need to make this work."

The gang tensions date back decades and while this town is back on edge, the residents now say enough is enough.