Jacinda Ardern says she doesn't need to trust Harry Tam for Mongrel Mob-linked meth rehab scheme to produce results

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern continues to defend signing off millions of dollars to fund a meth rehab programme linked to the Mongrel Mob.

The Kahukura drug and trauma rehabilitation scheme, involving lifetime Mongrel Mob member Harry Tam, was given almost $3 million in funding taken under the Proceeds of Crime.

But further questions have been raised after a video surfaced online showing Tam using a Nazi salute and urging fellow Mongrel Mob members not to vote for the Opposition National Party - which has repeatedly targeted the Government over the funding. It's believed the video was taken ahead of Election 2020. 

In an interview about the rehab programme earlier this month, Tam was asked why society should support him.

"I think my loyalty lies in being a good New Zealander," he told TVNZ's Q+A.

"Jacinda seems to trust me - why wouldn't you?

"It doesn't matter what I do because I've had that label - you're not going to trust me," Tam told TVNZ.

During an interview with The AM Show on Monday, Ardern was asked if she trusted Tam.

"I don't need to trust that individual person - I need to look at the results that were produced in 2020 and I place my weight on the local police who supported the programme," she told host Ryan Bridge.

"The basis of this funding; it came from the support across agencies - including local police. That's why it's being funded.

"What I will push back on - there's been some suggestion here that because it's a treatment programme… the idea that that somehow implicitly means that we support gangs - I just reject that."

On Sunday, National leader Judith Collins lashed out at the Government over the meth rehab programme.

"Following revelations that Labour gave $2.75 million to a Mongrel Mob trust and reports of escalating gun crime, the public needs confidence in the justice system," she said in a statement.

But Ardern said it's a scheme that's been funded by previous Governments.

"This is not new - this style of programme has been funded before.

Harry Tam and Jacinda Ardern.
Harry Tam and Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: The AM Show

"Whenever we fund a programme, it's not simply… 'it's funded' and then there's no attention paid to it. Of course, there is - it has to produce results."

Ardern said the Government wants the supply of meth to stop.

"We want gangs to stop engaging in criminal activity - that is why we have funded the police to create additional numbers around organised crime.

"The question that seems to be the case here is, how do you fund programmes that have people who have been affiliated with gangs and have drug issues?

"My argument would be: if we want to end the methamphetamine trade, then we do need to reach those who are hard to reach.

"That does not mean we change our strong position on methamphetamine," Ardern added.

The Kahukura programme has received $2.75 million over four years.