Hundreds of rival gang members are gathering in Auckland on Monday for the first day of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.
Gang members from the Mongrel Mob, Black Power, Filthy Few, Kuki Squad, Tribal Huks, Tribesmen, Stormtroopers, King Cobra and 501s are all attending the inquiry at the Manukau Events Centre.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care is looking into what happened to children, young people and vulnerable adults in state and faith-based care in Aotearoa New Zealand between 1950 and 1999.
Several gang leaders and members will be sharing their experiences in care including senior members of the King Cobras, Mongrel Mob and Filthy Few.
Photos from the centre show hundreds of patched, rival gang members mingling outside the venue. The atmosphere is calm and members of rival gangs are greeting each other and talking.
A spokesperson from the Royal Commission said the gang leaders will be sharing their insights into the link between being abused in care and later joining a gang.
“Our engagement with several Māori survivors informed us that the isolation, discrimination and abuse they experienced during care had contributed to many of them later joining gangs. Some survivors have turned to crime and gangs, as ways to survive and belong,” they said.
“They told us their paths in life had been fixed from a young age, giving them few options or ways to determine their own futures. Many survivors carry intergenerational trauma, a burden of fear and anger, which in some cases has turned to violence. For many survivors, being taken into care, and then abused, became a pathway into other institutions including prison. “
The inquiry was announced in February 2018 and since then has heard from 2644 people about their experiences.
In December, the Royal Commission released a 500-page document detailing the horrors experienced by adolescent patients at Lake Alice Psychiatric Hospital in the 1970s.
The survivors spoke of torture and sexual, physical, emotional and psychological abuse while at the hospital.