Drug rehab facilities being run as gang pads, National says

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis "should be all over this", National says.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis "should be all over this", National says. Photo credit: Newshub.

The Government has serious questions to answer after the latest raid on a drug rehabilitation centre, National's police spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis "should be all over this" and trying to establish how gang members could access guns, drugs and cash in such facilities, Mitchell said, especially as it was the second raid of its type.

Nga Kete Wananga Solutions, a kaupapa Māori residential facility at Dairy Flat north of Auckland, was swarmed by police in an operation targeting gangs yesterday.

They seized almost half a kilogram of methamphetamine, $500,000, and a firearm.

Detective Inspector Aaron Proctor said the police were targeting activity involving members of the Headhunters Motorcycle Gang when they stormed the property.

A 38-year-old man, who is a patched gang member, was arrested in relation to the items found.

It comes just two months after a similar raid in at Ahikaa Trust in Auckland.

The New Zealand Herald is reporting that the facility's founder, Matilda Kahotea, is the mother of three senior members of the Head Hunters gang.

Among the small number of current residents at the facility are prominent members of the Head Hunters, Hells Angels and Mongrel Mob, the Herald's report says.

Kahotea, who is also the director, told Morning Report it was the first time Nga Kete Wananga Solutions had been raided and it was a shock.

It's a rehabilitation centre which opened in July and it runs a three-month rehabilitation programme.

There were a lot of gang affiliates coming through, former inmates and other self-referrals.

"I am going to be honest - they're the people I'm actually targeting, the reason being I think it's needed within that environment, I've lived within that environment, I've had lived experience and I think I have something to offer to help guide these men."

So far 52 men have come through the facility and there has been a good success rate.

"We've had awesome community support."

An independent service comes to the premises to carry out random drug testing on the men.

It costs $20,000 for each person to attend the facility which was considerably less than others were charging, Kahotea said.

"A lot of these guys can't even rub $20 together ... but any donation they can give us to help maintain our kaupapa we accept.

"The pricing we explain fully to our people what it entails, what it goes towards. We're a non-profit organisation as well, and this is monitored, this is seen, we've had nothing to hide around it."

But Mitchell said it was a serious failure of the justice system when bail rehabilitation facilities were being used as gang pads.

National had highlighted this to the government after the raid two months ago after high-powered military style rifles in the common areas were recovered during the raid on Ahikaa Trust's premises which was inside his electorate.

He was checking to see if it was operating within the city's bylaws.

"They're putting gang members into a location that they're effectively running as a gang pad, with guns, cash and drugs."

Asked if he wanted to close such facilities down, he said gang members should be returned to jail if there were drugs, cash and guns involved.

They should be attending programmes inside remand centres if they were serious about getting off drugs.

"The questions are these: who's running these facilities, have they been vetted, how are they given a licence to operate...?"

Mitchell said he had asked Davis two months ago how gang members were being able to access guns, cash and drugs in the properties.

"These are facilities that the courts are sending people to because they are meant to be providing some support and rehabilitation for them and they appear to be instead facilities where you've got gang members going in with firearms, with drug and cash and carrying on criminal activities."

He said there were a lot of good rehabilitation programmes that were not allowing gang members to run their criminal enterprises.