More than 150 bikies ignored
coronavirus restrictions to
farewell a fallen member at a funeral despite the presence
The Filthy Few motorcycle club
had a huge turnout for a funeral service of one of their
members at Matamata Cemetery, on
New Zealand's North Island,
There were reportedly up to
seven police vehicles stationed outside the funeral at all
times, but officers stayed their distance and allowed the
funeral to take place.
The country has since loosened
its lockdown laws to allow up to 50 people to attend
approved funerals, but at the time the limit was just 10
Lawrence Lynch, who was at the
cemetery laying flowers for his sister-in-law buried the day
before, said he was 'brassed-off' at the large send-off.
Lawrence Lynch, who was at the
cemetery (google street view pictured) laying flowers
for his sister-in-law buried the day before, said he was
'brassed-off' at the large send-off
Stuff he confronted police
because he was annoyed only seven people were allowed to
attend his sister-in-law's service the day before.
'They said "we can't do nothing
about it". To be quite honest, I don't think the cops could do
anything about it, because there were too many of the gang
members,' Mr Lynch said.
'It was not very nice, I thought,
but if that's the ruling, that's the ruling. That's what I'm
brassed off about.
'If we have to sacrifice that, how
come that they were allowed that yesterday? It's quite sad when
you lose a family member.'
Witnesses initially thoughts it
was a checkpoint while another slammed the gathering as
NZ Police's Inspector Andrew
Mortimore, the Acting District Commander Waikato, told Daily
Mail Australia he understands that COVID-19 restrictions add
difficulty when you have lost a loved one.
'Prior to this funeral service,
staff spoke with those involved to remind them of the Alert
Level 3 restrictions and encouraged them to work with the
funeral director to ensure appropriate distancing, and controls
on numbers,' Inspector Mortimore said.
There were six to seven police
vehicles outside the funeral at all times. Pictured: Biker
riding off after funeral
'Police staff will be following up
with those at the service who may have breached the restrictions
and enforcement action in the form of warnings or prosecutions
is being considered.'
A spokeswoman from the Matamata-Piako
District Council said an application for a funeral was received
and they provided instructions that ten people would be allowed
and their names must be provided in advanced.
'We later heard rumours in the
community that large numbers were planning to attend the burial,
so we arranged for security guards to be present at the cemetery
and notified the police. Police were present at the funeral from
the outset,' she said.
'The Security Guards attempted to
record the details of those who attended for contract tracing,
however, we don’t have exact figures of how many attended. We
believe this was closer to 120-150, not 300 as some media
outlets have reported.
'We know members of multiple gangs
attended, however, do not know which gang the deceased was
Coronavirus: Biker gang flouts mass gathering rules at Matamata
May 13 2020
Previous restrictions would have limited gatherings to just
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As many as 300 biker gang members and affiliates openly broke the
coronavirus mass gatherings rules
at a Matamata funeral, as several police watched on.
Lawrence Lynch was one of seven mourners at a funeral for his
sister-in-law, who Stuff has agreed not to name, on Monday,
where a roll call was taken to ensure they were adhering to mass
The following day, Lynch returned to Matamata Cemetery to put
something on the grave site, only to be greeted by hoards of
"Holy smokes - there's all these bloody motorcycle gangs there.
There's about 200 or 300," Lynch said.
"Brassed off" by the flagrant dismissal of the rules, Lynch asked
one of the police officers for an explanation.
"They said 'we can't do nothing about it'. To be quite honest, I
don't think the cops could do anything about it, because there were
too many of the gang members," Lynch said.
He then approached the Matamata-Piako District Council.
"They said 'it's out of control, and we couldn't do [anything] so we
called the police in'," Lynch said.
A cap on numbers at his sister-in-law's funeral was difficult — his
children were not able to attend the service.
"It was not very nice, I thought, but if that's the ruling, that's
the ruling. That's what I'm brassed off about.
"If we have to sacrifice that, how come that they were allowed that
yesterday? It's quite sad when you lose a family member."
Matamata-Piako District said it had received an application for an
internment to take place at Matamata Cemetery on Tuesday.
A council spokesperson said "we provided instructions, as we have
done all throughout level 3, that 10 people would be permitted and
their names must be provided in advance to be ticked off on
"We later heard rumours in the community that large numbers were
planning to attend the burial, so we arranged for security guards to
be present at the cemetery.
"When the numbers started to exceed the limits set in the government
guidelines, we escalated this to the police."
Police acting district commander Waikato Inspector Andrew Mortimore
said officers spoke to mourners involved with Tuesday's service
prior to it going ahead.
They were reminded of the alert level 3 restrictions and encouraged
to "work with the funeral director to ensure appropriate distancing
and controls on numbers", Mortimore said.
"Police staff will be following up with those at the service who may
have breached the restrictions and enforcement action in the form of
warnings or prosecutions is being considered."
National leader Simon Bridges launched
a petition calling for the
"inhumane funeral and tangi rules" to be relaxed to allow up to 100
people at funerals, weddings and places of worship.
"It's not fair that you can have 30 people on a rugby field playing
close contact sport, but you can't have more than 10 people at a
funeral, so they can grieve together," Bridges said.
After meetings with church leaders, funeral directors and iwi
leaders over the past 24 hours, the government on Wednesday
afternoon announced gathering numbers at funerals would be loosened
to 50 people.