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The Headhunters Motorcycle Club's annual Outlaw Run is expected to gather about 150 motorcycles, custom cars and hot rods for the event in the town on Saturday. Depending on weather the run, now in its seventh year, was expected to make its way from Wellsford to the Kai Iwi Lakes, north of Dargaville.
An organiser of the event, who declined to be named, said it would be family-friendly with the proceeds going towards a local family in need.
However, those local businesses sponsoring the event needed to remember who they were dealing with, Wellsford Sergeant Geoff Medland said.
"People need to be aware that they are supporting an organised crime group," Mr Medland said. A poster advertising the event, designed in the style of a wanted poster, listed 44 groups or businesses as sponsors, with about half of these from Wellsford.
"I think that when you have gang members growing up within communities people know them and their families," Mr Medland said.
"They'll see them through different eyes."
But the underlying fact was that all motorcycle gangs were part of organised crime, Mr Medland said.
The Headhunters made headlines at the end of last year after a number of members and associates were caught manufacturing methamphetamine in a Waiotira house, between Whangarei and Paparoa.
But the run organiser said none of the Wellsford chapter members were involved in that bust.
"Like I say to people, there's good and bad in every group," he said.
"People don't understand that we're just normal people."
The event had got so many sponsors because the gang had a lot of support in the area, he said. In the past, proceeds from the run had been given to St John, local kindergartens and a young girl with cancer. Last year there was a police escort for at least part of the run and the same was expected this year.
Clive Jones, owner of Outdoor and Marine Wellsford, said he had no reservations supporting the run.
"They don't cause any trouble around here," Mr Jones said. "I understand that probably in some areas they are not the nicest of people."
Quite a few gang members were customers and he had never had any issues with them. "I'd say just about everyone that is sponsoring them would say the same thing," he said. "They get this sort of support every year."
Ryan Ran, owner of La Padella Restaurant where the run started from, said he was unaware the restaurant was listed as a sponsor. He was not sure if he wanted the business listed as a sponsor again next year.
The gang had made a booking for lunchtime on Saturday and he said he has no problem with them starting there as it was good for business.
Other businesses listed as sponsors contacted by the Northern Advocate declined to comment by edition time.