"People are dying for a $300 product."

Feb. 21, 2019, 4:12 p.m.

With a strong history in the Black Power and a colourful lifetime in Otᾱngarei Martin Kaipo has seen the suburb change over the years as new challenges continue to emerge.

The rise of gangs like the Headhunters brings a new ‘street’ look enticing youth with the sale and trade of hard drugs the key driver for local gang related crime.

“The age group of intensity has come down.

“The danger has intensified as well as the demand.  What has been the major change? The culture around respect and honour, those are now lost factors,” he said.

Kaipo believes gangs have lost their identity something which attracted him into the Black Power over 30 years ago.

“What the leather portrayed to us in the day was the uniform that recognised the outcast, those who society considered rejects.  Now you don’t know who that is, identity has set confusion around who you should be watching out for.”

Having run a residential home for boys, both Martin and his wife Janine agree that boundaries are non-existent and youth are faced with too much choice.  

“They’re living in age groups outside of their age brackets, so they’re 14 year olds being 18 year olds.  These kids are doing adult things we haven’t even done.

“They’ve all done everything, so there’s no stepping stones to work through so then they look for harder, crazier things because of that boredom.

“When asked, ‘why did you do these things?’ their reply is ‘because no one said I couldn’t,” Janine said.

As influences change, so do the dangers of the drug trade evolving over the years from marijuana and pills to synthetics and methamphetamine.

“You had the days of the weed and the pills and now we’re talking about synthetics.  A product mixed with things such as car batteries.

“People are dying because of a $300 product turned into thousands so if we put it in a simple factor, a person’s life is worth less than a $300 product.”

“The war on drugs cannot be won.  

“If we’re talking about a war on drugs that exists in our society, we haven’t found the solutions for nurturing our whᾱnau back.  That is the biggest task to try and retain stability in the whᾱnau structure.”


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