Revealed: Cabinet minister had four meetings with gang members since election

A Cabinet minister has had four meetings with gang members since the election despite the Government distancing itself from a Greens co-leader who spoke at a Mongrel Mob event.

Last year Mongrel Mob member Harry Tam pitched their rising numbers as a voting block in the election. 

"All of a sudden we can turn into 20,000 to 30,000 votes - we are a lot more powerful than we care to think about," he told members.

Newshub can reveal since that election Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson has met with gang members four times.

Three meetings were in his Beehive office with social worker and longstanding Black Power member Eugene Ryder.

Jackson says the meetings are part of his job. 

"I have an obligation as Māori Development Minister to come up with ideas and strategies to make our communities safer." 

The fourth meeting was an hour-and-a-half hui with the Mongrel Mob Kingdom in the Waikato.

Part of his Associate Justice ministerial responsibility is to engage with gangs.

Mongrel Mob spokesperson Lou Hutchinson says politicians need to see first-hand what's going on with gangs.

"We really believe that the politicians need to see what's going on and understand what's going on instead of sitting down there in Wellington and making their decisions for us." 

Earlier this month the Government sought to distance itself from Greens co-leader Marama Davidson after she spoke at a Mongrel Mob event.

Jackson says his colleagues knew about his meetings.

"Yeah they were all aware - but I wasn't at a gang pad. I was at a community trust."

The ACT Party says the Government should be standing up to gangs, not having a cup of tea with them.

"When the gang members stop peddling meth, stop violent crime, stop bashing their women and take their patches off then we should be engaging with them until we should make that happen," says ACT's justice spokesperson Nicole McKee.

Jackson disagrees: "You can't just sit back like the ACT Party and dog whistle and say lock all those Māoris up."

But also at that Mongrel Mob meeting was former ACT Party leader Dr Don Brash. He's now involved in a Mongrel Mob education trust.