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Armed gang members in Waitangi stand-off


Gang members armed with knives threatened to spoil Waitangi Day celebrations with violence.

Writing in his blog, Police Commissioner Peter Marshall described a tense stand-off on the Waitangi bridge.

"They [gang members] tried to cross the bridge but were stopped, alighted from their bikes, did a haka and retreated in a deflated manner."

Police also seized a number of weapons - including knives - from Tribesmen travelling to Waitangi over the long weekend.

In a third potentially violent situation, police were called in when rival gangs Tribesmen and Rebels faced-off in Kaikohe, west of Waitangi.

Gang members could often be seen throughout Waitangi during the long weekend.

On Monday afternoon, more than a dozen Tribesmen gang members gathered at a property opposite the lower marae.

A sole policeman stood at the front of the property while further police cars waited nearby.

But gang members were not the only ones disrupting the peace.

Scenes of ugly protests broke out on Sunday morning when dignitaries arrived.

Marshall, who was in Waitangi, said he saw the "discourteous treatment" Prime Minister John Key received.

A number of protesters charged at Key during speeches at Te Tii Marae, forcing him to cut his visit short.

"Police work with the cards we're dealt, and it was made less easy in this case by the presence of certain individuals, some with megaphones, intent on causing disruption," Marshall said.

He praised the Maori wardens role in diffusing tension, including "The Door" - who stopped three charging protesters with his arms.

Marshall said he also took his hat off to the diplomatic protection squad police.

"The absence of serious incidents is not a matter of luck. It reflects a dedicated and competent group who thoroughly know their business. We owe them a debt of gratitude."



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