Hells Angels ride under police scrutiny
Police will monitor a weekend motorcycle ride organised by a breakaway chapter of notorious biker gang Hells Angels.
The newly-formed Hells Angels Nomads chapter has invited members of the public to "ride with the Angels" in Auckland on Saturday, asking non-members to make a $20 donation to the Red Cross to take part.
The Nomads chapter reportedly formed last year when senior members of the Auckland and Whanganui chapters created the new group after the arrival of a rival gang, the Rebels, from Australia.
The Nomads were linked to gang tensions and a series of shootings in Australia recently.
Police spokesman Inspector Gary Allcock confirmed there would be a police presence at the ride and warned gang members and participants to behave.
"It's important members of the public and gang members understand the law applies equally to everyone.
"We won't tolerate offending by people who style themselves as gang members or are out to break the law."
Waitemata road policing manager, Superintendent John Kelly, said the event would be policed by officers on motorbikes and in cars.
"It's a public ride so there's the traffic stuff as well as any disorder or problems that arise as a result."
Police hoped other road users wouldn't be "inconvenienced" by poker run participants this weekend and urged them to abide by the road rules and for "everyone to behave".
Allcock said there were proven links between the gang chapters around the world.
"It's enough to give everyday members of the public as well as police, cause for concern... About certain aspects of their behaviour and activities."
The Auckland ride leaves Northcote at midday.
New Zealand Red Cross national fundraising manager Alice Montague said the organisation had no qualms about accepting donations from the Hells Angels ride.
"Hundreds of community groups have been raising funds for us. To our knowledge this has always been done with the best intentions and we have received the funds raised," she said.
"One of Red Cross' fundamental principles is impartiality, and it does not judge any organisation that offers to raise money for the community."
The Nomads have been at the centre of inter-gang tensions in Australia recently which have resulted in drive-by shootings and arson attacks.
According to Australian media reports, defections between gangs, the re-establishment of the Nomads chapter in Parramatta and the Parramatta chapter of the Bandidos being absorbed into the Hells Angels are believed to be linked to recent unrest.
One report linked the tensions to a botched assassination attempt on a Nomads member and said six drive-by shootings were under investigation by a police task force set up to investigate the growing tensions between the Hells Angels and Nomads gangs around Parramatta.