Friday, January 25, 2013

Just what Upper Hutt doesn't need...

We have friends who have chosen to live in Upper Hutt. Sure; like Palmerston North and Wanganui, Upper Hutt gets a bad rap, but they love it. It's close to their places of employment, not that far from the city, and Wairarapa getaways are just over they hill. Houses are affordable, and they wouldn't swap it for anything at the moment.

But they won't be pleased by this news:

The Head Hunters have clashed with a rival gang and at least three people have been seriously assaulted as the motorcycle gang tries to expand its network in Upper Hutt.
Police are aware of at least three Head Hunters members living in the area as well a growing number of prospects and associates, some of whom have established allegiances with members of Wellington motorcycle gang the Satans Slaves.
Members of the armed offenders squad and other police yesterday raided a Stokes Valley home and arrested a 31-year-old man with strong links to the Head Hunters.
He was charged with aggravated robbery and kidnapping in connection with an incident in December in which a man was allegedly threatened, beaten and robbed in Wellington, police said.
Other gang associates were charged recently with dishonesty and drug offences.
Members of the Head Hunters moved into a leased warehouse in Goodshed Rd, Upper Hutt, last September. The building is being converted into a fight club-branded gym called Capital Cage Club.
One of the men living at the building is Head Hunters member Nathan Hemana.
He previously denied the building was a gang pad, saying it was a training facility for troubled youth.
The gym is run by the Capital Transitions Charitable Trust Board. Its two trustees are Mr Hemana and Philip McFarland, another Head Hunters member. Mr Hemana also runs his debt collecting business, Capital Collectors, from the building.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed yesterday that three men - understood to be Mr Hemana, Mr McFarland and another associate - were denied entry to Thailand in October last year.
Hutt Valley area commander Mike Hill said at least three men had been seriously assaulted by people associated with the gang in recent months. At least one of the men needed hospital treatment.
There had also been public confrontations and threats between the Head Hunters and at least one other rival gang in the area, he said.
A source has revealed that members of the Mongrel Mob attacked a Satans Slaves member outside the gym after they mistook him for a member of the Head Hunters.
Mr Hill said there had been meetings at the gym, and intelligence suggested the network of people associated with the gang in the area had grown.
"Our concern is . . . around their use of violence with people who have crossed them.
"There's the general gang member standover tactics, there's the intimidation, but we are aware of a number of people who have been assaulted to various levels because of clashes they've had with that group." 

Hutt Valley police are right to be concerned. The Head Hunters are bad news, and hide their illegal activities behind the facades of apparently legitimate businesses. The gang is well known to be involved in the methamphetamine trade; just ask Sir Paul Holmes.

Upper Hutt needs the Head Hunters (and for that matter any gang) like it needs a boil on the bum. Gangs serve no legitimate purpose in a civilised society. But it's even worse when an "outside" gang with no connections to the area decides to muscle its way in.

So we hope for our friends' sake and for the sake of all the law-abiding folk of Upper Hutt that the Head Hunters get rooted out before they can get fully established. Let them get a foot-hold, and like oxalis in the garden, you'll never get rid of them. A heightened gang presence and all that goes with it is just what Upper Hutt (or for that matter any New Zealand community) doesn't need.

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