Ōpōtiki’s mayor says further police are being pulled into the region to keep “tension” at bay following the death of the Mongrel Mob Barbarians president.
Community leaders and police in the Bay of Plenty town of Ōpōtiki are on high alert since the gang leader was killed on Friday.
Police have since opened a homicide investigation into the death of local man and the Mongrel Mob Barbarians president, Steven Rota Taiatini. Police have not yet made any arrests.
Ōpōtiki Mayor David Moore told AM there is “tension” in his community and is reassuring his residents to stay calm.
“Iwi leaders, police and myself, as part of the council, have been working hard all weekend trying to calm the situation.”
Moore said the Taiatini whanau are understandably grieving the loss of a loved one, and he hopes police work swiftly in their homicide investigation “and get a result here to help the family move on.”
He told AM a region can “never have enough police” but he’s been told more resources are being sent to Ōpōtiki.
“We are getting reassurances that they’re here.”
Moore said large numbers of people have arrived in Ōpōtiki following Taiatini’s death, which he says is resulting in heightened tensions.
“We’ve just got to hope police sort of help us keep it under control along with iwi leaders.”
Opotiki College has chosen to shut for the rest of the week amid heightened emotions, and so too has Opotiki Primary, which could reopen on Thursday, decisions that Moore says he backs.
“The schools that were opened yesterday, large numbers of children were away anyway so it probably is a good thing just for a few days and we’ll get back to normal as soon as we can.”
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins urged residents to follow the advice of officials, and he too has been assured police are putting extra resources into Ōpōtiki.
“I think it’s important that the community follow the guidance of the police.”
Hipkins said it’s not an “acceptable situation” in the community.
“I’m backing the police here. I think they’ve got a tough job ahead of them, they need to do that job, and the community needs to back them to do that.”
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