Porirua cemetery set to ban gang insignia

Last updated 08:58 01/05/2012
Dennis Makalio
Mongrel Mob member Dennis Makalio says such a ban would be in insult to members.

Relevant offers

Kapi-Mana News

Eagle-eyed neighbour leads police to autistic boy's stolen rabbit Capital come out on top at surf life saving challenge Judgeford aim for Duncan Cup in 2017 interclub golf competition Porirua hopefuls head to waka Ama sprint nationals at Lake Karapiro Changeable Wellington weather set to continue through to Anniversary Weekend Odour complaints against Porirua's Spicer Landfill continue to drop For ducks' sake: bread is out and vegetables are in for Porirua's feathered friends Art Action always popular with kids at Festival of Elements in Porirua Aotea Countdown opens with 57 new jobs for Porirua community A big night planned for music-lovers at Porirua's Symphony at the Lagoon

Gang insignia could be banned from Porirua cemetery headstones after a woman had her husband's body disinterred and moved when a Mongrel Mob member was buried next to him.

However, a Mongrel Mob spokesman says such a move would be intrusive and disrespectful.

Porirua City Council is proposing to ban offensive wording or designs on gravestones at Whenua Tapu cemetery. In 2008 a man's body was moved after his widow, a daily visitor, took offence to gang insignia on a neighbouring grave's headstone.

The proposal is part of an overhaul of the council's cemeteries management plan and bylaw. At present there is no policy on swear words, artwork or any headstone inscription that could potentially cause offence, a report states.

"The council has previously received complaints regarding wording/design on monuments that were seen as offensive by members of the public. To address this, the proposed management plan states that when authorising a monument council will take into consideration the wording and decorations on the monuments when giving its approval."

The issue will be offered for public consultation from May 15 to June 18.

The council is keen to know what people would find offensive on headstones, and submissions will help shape its policy. Mongrel Mob member Dennis Makalio says such a ban would be in insult to members.

"People have worn this all their lives. It's part of their lives. It's like telling Samoans to take off their lava-lavas at a funeral," he says. "It's like racism. It's like, 'we don't want a Maori next to us'."

About 10 years ago the Mongrel Mob agreed to remove the words "seig f...ing heil", a Mob salute, from headstones, replacing it with the acronym "SFH", Mr Makalio says.

He was not aware of the latest council plan, but he says the council tend to persecute the Mob, which is a Porirua institution.

"Councillors have always been against us from day one. At the end of the day, we've been here since 1969," he says.

"It's going back to saying where we can wear our patches."

Mr Makalio often prepares Mob graves for burial, and has photographed 178 Mob graves nationwide for a Mob history he is writing.

Insignia makes the graves easier to locate for visiting gang members, Mr Makalio says. Council rules would allow the Mob to ask for a separate section of Whenua Tapu, like Muslims and RSA members have, which Mr Makalio is open to.

Ad Feedback

"It's no different to Anzac and all that stuff. Whenua Tapu is about respect. It's not about telling people how they should show respect."

Human Rights Commission spokesman Gilbert Wong says the issue is new to him. People are welcome to complain to the commission but there are no legal grounds for such a discrimination case, unlike instances of racism, sexism and ageism.

"The issue needs to be dealt with sensitively," Mr Wong says.

- Kapi-Mana News


Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content