The widow of Ōpōtiki’s Mongrel Mob boss, killed in June, has broken her silence – calling for an end to violence in the town between Mongrel Mob and Black Power.
Police officers from all over the Bay of Plenty remain in Ōpōtiki, using special powers under a Criminal Activity Intervention Legislation (CAIL) warrant issued by the court, to search homes and vehicles of suspected gang members.
It follows five gang-related incidents in 10 days – the latest on Saturday when a 20-year-old woman was shot and injured in the arm whilst in her car.
Pauline Taiatini, whose husband Steven was mowed down by a ute in June in what’s believed to be a retribution attack, says she wants to help find a solution to the ongoing violence between gangs.
“I am on it like a red Ford bonnet man,” she said. “Within the next week or two I’m going to have a wānanga, I am going to ask my iwi to support me in having this wānanga not with the others but with ours, with the Mongrel Mob.”
Steven Taiatini, 45, was the president of Ōpōtiki’s Mongrel Mob Barbarians. Pauline doesn’t know why he was killed, and police are yet to find those responsible.
“He’s a humble man, he went there to try and find calm” said Pauline, who is also regional coordinator at Mana Enhancing STOP Charitable Trust.
Pauline, like her husband, has served time behind bars but claims he was “a family man who’d turned his life around” working alongside her – running anti-meth programmes prior to his death.
Her home is one of a dozen properties and vehicles police have searched since the weekend.
“I get it, I get police have a job to do with what’s going on in the community,” Pauline said.
Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander Insp Nicky Cooney is making no apologies.
“We will continue to police the gangs hard to stamp this out because the community deserves better than this,” Cooney told Newshub.
She hopes the community feels reassured by the extra police presence but “on the flipside, I also hope if the community has information about individuals or activities that they pick up the phone and tell us”.
Pauline continues to carry her husband’s ashes with her wherever she goes.
She describes herself as “the pou [pillar of support] of the family now” and is vowing to work with whānau of Mongrel Mob members over the coming weeks so her chapter can do its bit to suppress gang tensions.