Bandidos gang claims branch in Christchurch
Infamous outlaw motorcycle club the Bandidos has announced online that it now has a fully-fledged chapter in Christchurch.
Police said they were monitoring the bikie gang's activity in the city but would not answer further questions about the group this week.
Anyone with concerns or information about members of the group was asked to contact police, a spokesman said.
Until recently the Bandidos only had a probationary chapter in Christchurch.
The group had patched over members from other clubs last year, The Press understands. A recent post on the Bandidos' worldwide website congratulated the city's "full chapter" on its "new status".
Earlier this year, international Bandidos members were in New Zealand to help set up probationary chapters in Invercargill and Dunedin.
Gang expert Dr Jarrod Gilbert said a probationary chapter was a group in the process of achieving membership to a club.
It had to prove itself before it could become a recognised chapter, which had international voting rights, and could wear a full set of the club's colours.
The latest announcement "is incredibly significant. It's the equivalent of going from the development squad to playing for the All Blacks," Gilbert said.
It means "that you're prepared to . . . dedicate your life to the club and protect the patch at all costs."
In 2012, it was reported the Bandidos were setting up a chapter in South Auckland.
Since then police have said the gang had established itself in New Zealand, with more than 20 patched members.
Figures supplied to The Press by the Department of Corrections show there were 11 people with affiliations to the gang serving prison time as at October 31 last year.
The Bandidos - described as one of the "big three" outlaw motorcycle clubs along with the Hells Angels and Outlaws - is one of the most feared bikie gangs in Australia.
Anyone with information or concerns about the gang should contact police on 03 363 7400 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.