A "white pride" group, Right Wing Resistance (RWR), claims to be patrolling New Brighton streets that "the police and the system has all but given up on".
The group, linked to North Island-based white power activist Kyle Chapman, says Christchurch is the centre of a "white pride" revival.
Films of their initiation ceremonies were listed on an internet site for "white nationalists" called WNTube.
A message board used by the group, Stormfront.org, said the group was performing "crimewatch patrols" aimed at "cutting down on homie [American rap-style] vandalism and muggings that have become common on the east side of CHCH".
"The police and the system in general has all but given up on the poor areas and it is left to us to sort this out now," it said.
A member of the group, who spoke anonymously to The Press, said "sporadic" patrols had started in New Brighton about five months ago.
"Locals were getting very upset with youths, particularly Polynesian youths, standing over people and vandalising."
The groups of between five and 15 members did not carry weapons.
"No doubt people will want to label us skinheads, but that's just a way for society to put a label on us, put us in a bracket.
"I know ... that vigilantism is illegal and it's frowned upon, but we're living in modern times, police resources are stretched, and they're not being able to cover the ground as effectively as they would like."
The group was a white pride group as opposed to white power, he said. "We're not about going around bashing up Polynesians or Asians."
If a European youth was found vandalising property: "We'd probably say `Hey, what are you doing? That's not really the white way'."
Police said they had not heard of the group and denied they had "given up" on New Brighton. Detective Sergeant Andrew Fabish, of the New Brighton police, said it sounded like the group was "trying to get themselves a profile".
New Brighton Residents Association member George Aorangi Stanley said "boot boys" had been spotted "hanging around looking menacing".
"I don't know if you'd consider it patrolling. I just consider them as contributing to the tension."
The group had correctly tapped into local concern about crime and safety, she said. "It's the main topic of conversation at the [Residents Association] meetings."
Aorangi Stanley said the association had discussed doing their own patrols – a "reclaim the night" action – to increase safety.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the trend was "unacceptable".
"I would be disturbed to find out that we had a vigilante approach to security going on.
"Well-meaning amateurs" could easily become "loose cannons", Parker said.
Anything associated with Chapman and his "brand" would come with "a lot of history attached", he said.
"I would urge these folk that if [they want to do security], their first point of contact should be the police."
The initiation ceremonies on WNTube site showed about 12 shaven-headed men in what appeared to be a garage. Black banners with the group's insignia, a skull over a bent cross, were displayed on the walls.
An oath, titled "Kyle's oath", was read and members were "knighted" by a leader with a sword. Long-time white power activist Chapman was involved with the group until he moved to the North Island several months ago.
A newsletter sent by an umbrella group called the Nationalist Alliance said the Right Wing Resistance was the "active organisation of New Zealand".
"The Christchurch RWR is now the largest Right-wing organisation Christchurch has ever seen. When new branches are set up, it is no longer a couple of people joining but whole crews of men willing to work hard."
- © Fairfax NZ News