Gangs in New Zealand

Gangs in New Zealand


There are numerous gangs in New Zealand, of varying criminality, organisation and ethnicity. The New Zealand Police have distinguished between “New Zealand gangs”, outlaw motorcycle gangs and local street gangs. They named the three most prominent “New Zealand gangs” as Black Power (not related to the African-American movement); the Mongrel Mob, and the Nomads.[1] Examples of local street gangs are the Junior Don Kings (JDK) and Dope Money Sex (DMS) in Central Auckland.[2]

According to the book Gangs by Ross Kemp, New Zealand has more gangs per head than any other country in the world,[3] with about seventy major gangs and over 4,000 patched members[4] in a population of 4 million people.

Prominent gangs

Highway 61 members in Wellington, New Zealand

Black Power

Black Power was formed in the late 1960s in Wellington as the Black Bulls,[10] and its membership is primarily Māori and Pacific Islander. It has been involved with various kinds of crime, particularly drug dealing. Its symbol is the clenched fist of the American black power movement, and their colours are blue and black.

Head Hunters MC

Main article: Head Hunters MC

The Head Hunters motorcycle club is one of the fastest growing motorcycle clubs in the country. It has chapters in West Auckland, Wellsford, Northland and most recently Wellington and Christchurch after patching over the Epitaph Riders.[11] Its beginning is said to go back to 1967 and has been historically tied to West Auckland although it maintains a presence in Ellerslie through a senior member.[12] In late 2010 members of the Sinn Fein motorcycle club in Wellington have patched over to become part of the Head Hunters motorcycle club.[13]

King Cobras

Main article: King Cobras (gang)

The King Cobras are a Central Auckland-based gang[14] with its origins born out of the Polynesian Panthers in the early 1970s whose ranks are predominantly Polynesian but not exclusive of others. Their reputed turf is reported to stretch from the Downtown area to Mangere Papatoetoe and Manurewa.[15] The Cobras also have links and associations with activity in the far north Moerewa Whangarei and North Shore,[16] and an established presence as far south as the Hutt Valley and the Wellington area.[17] In 2009 it was reported that members of the gang had been involved in a multimillion-dollar methamphetamine drug ring organised within Paremoremo Prison, and previously ran another large drug ring along with the Head Hunters.[18] The Cobras maintained a headquarters in Ponsonby up until August 2011 as they are reported to be shifting premises.[14][19]

Bandidos MC

In 2012, the notorious worldwide Motorcycle Club known as the Bandidos set up in South Auckland [20] and later established a second chapter in Christchurch.[21] The Bandidos have gone on to establish prospect chapters in Dunedin and Invercargill[22][23]

Hells Angels MC

Main article: Hells Angels

The Hells Angels motorcycle club founded a chapter in Auckland in 1961 and has since taken over gangs in Wanganui. New Zealand had the first chapter of the Hells Angels outside the US.[4]

In 2011 the club made headlines when it tried to register a lottery.[24] It made headlines again in late 2015 when it shutdown Nelson’s long-standing Lost Breed MC to stamp its mark on the city.[25]

Highway 61 MC

The Highway 61 motorcycle club was founded in 1968 and was the largest outlaw motorcycle club in New Zealand during the 1980s, 90s up until 2010.[26] It has chapters in Auckland, Hastings, Rotorua, Northland, Wellington and Christchurch, and by 2008 had expanded into Brisbane Sydney and the Gold Coast in eastern Australia.[27] They are mainly European and Maori in descent.[citation needed]

Mongrel Mob

Main article: Mongrel Mob

The Mongrel Mob was formed and organised in Hastings about 1968 and, like its Black Power rivals, is primarily Māori and Pacific Islander. The gang has been active in organised crime and has been involved in several murders. Its symbol is a bulldog wearing a German Stahlhelm helmet, and the gang makes use of other Nazi imagery. Their colours are red and black. The Mongrel Mob is currently the largest gang in New Zealand.[28]


Main article: New Zealand Nomads

In 1977 the Nomads split from Black Power.[29]

Rebels MC

In 2010 members of the Australian motorcycle club the Rebels have announced they will be establishing a presence in New Zealand in 2011. Rebels MC members have been sighted wearing their patches in various places throughout the North Island in early 2011.[30]

Road Knights MC

The Road Knights motorcycle club operates in the South Island.[31] They are based in Invercargill, Timaru and Dunedin.[32]

Tribesmen MC

The Tribesmen is a prominently Māori motorcycle club formed in the 1980s in Otara, they have a presence in South Auckland and as far south as Rotorua[33] and Murupara.[34] The Tribesmen are also rivals with the Mongrel Mob.

Killer Beez

Main article: Killa Beez (gang)

The Tribesmen have a feeder youth street gang called Killer Beez (sometimes Killer Bees, Killabeez, or KBZ),[35] possibly a reference to the hip hop group Killa Beez, a name given to Wu-Tang Clan affiliates who also wear yellow and black.[36] Killer Beez was headed by Josh Marsters,[37] formerly a vice-president of the Tribesmen gang. Marsters was one of 44 people from both gangs arrested in a police swoop in May 2008. In total 60 Killer Beez were arrested in an operation[38] that involved 110,000 intercepted messages.[39] Charges included supplying methamphetamine, conspiracy to supply methamphetamine and money laundering. Masters pleaded guilty but as of October 2011 was fighting to have that overturned.[40][41]

In 2010 member Latu Savelio Halangingie Kepu killed Jason Palmer, a prison guard in Spring Hill Corrections Facility.

In 2011 Vila Lemanu was the most senior Killer Beez member not in prison, he was on the run for several months[42] before having his conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal and a new trial ordered.[43]

The Killer Beez controlled the record label Colourway Records[44] until all its assets were seized in 2008.[45]

Red Devils MC

The Red Devils Motorcycle Club has a presence in Mt Eden and Nelson along with strong ties to the Hells Angels. In 2012 the club was involved in a high-profile anti-drug operation which later fell apart under heavy scrutiny in court. A range of charges laid against twenty one club members and associates were stayed, and later dropped altogether, in the belief that police had committed a “gross abuse of process” in posing as court officials to obtain a fake arrest warrant. The case against the club was officially dropped in early 2015 with the final charges dismissed on July 1. Police now believe that the Nelson chapter has become a full-fledged prospect chapter of the Hells Angels.[46][47][48][49]


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