The emergence of a new bikie gang in Christchurch is a sign of gang expansion and raises the prospect of gang wars, says an expert.
Two weeks ago The Press reported that members of the Rock Machine motorcycle club had "patched over" to the Bandidos in November. Patching over refers to when a motorcycle club becomes part of a larger club.
University of Canterbury lecturer Dr Jarrod Gilbert said although the gang scene in New Zealand had been in "steady decline for more than a decade", an expansion was now obviously occurring.
Gilbert, author of Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand, said the worldwide "Bandido nation" would lend the local chapter support, meaning the local group would be more likely to survive over time.
"The Bandidos were first rumoured to be establishing under a former Highway 61 leader in South Auckland in 2012. Now there is no doubt they are here," Gilbert said.
He said the worldwide "Bandido nation" would lend the local chapter support, meaning the local group would be more likely to survive over time.
The Bandidos and the Rebels have had serious conflicts in Australia.
"Whether or not these conflicts emerge in New Zealand is unclear, but I do feel that in a growing scene gang violence becomes somewhat inevitable," he said.
"In a crowded room, somebody is always going to get elbowed."
Gilbert said that gang events in Christchurch often reflected what would happen nationally, and that existing clubs could be reluctant to see new groups emerge without a challenge.
"While New Zealand has been remarkably peaceful in recent times, the prospect of gang wars is significantly increasing and I believe is inevitable."
Bandidos affiliates are reportedly also present in Dunedin and Invercargill, where a "patch-over ceremony" was held over the weekend in Invercargill.
The Bandidos Motorcycle Worldwide Club welcomed the Invercargill and Dunedin probationary chapters to the club on its website.
Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis, of the Southern District Organised Crime Squad, said small groups of people were working to establish a Bandidos presence in the district.
"Police are aware of their activities and policing them as we do any criminal group."
- The Press