The surrender of a cache of weapons by an Invercargill Mongrel Mob leader was a "good first step" in the gang's bid to change its ways, police said yesterday.
Detective Sergeant Mark McCloy, of Invercargill CIB, said chapter president Shaun Newton-Te Kahu surrendered a number of firearms and weapons, including a shotgun, AK47, rifles, molotov cocktails and cut-down slug guns on Friday.
Police and defence personnel also dug up two rifles and an imitation timer for an explosive device near the gang's headquarters, in Severn St, on Tuesday following information volunteered by Mr Newton-Te Kahu.
No charges would be laid because there was a permanent amnesty for the surrender of firearms, Mr McCloy said.
He was not naive enough to think the gang might not have more weapons.
But Mr Newton-Te Kahu said he surrendered the weapons to show he was serious about changing the chapter's direction.
The gang, which has a relatively low public presence in Southland, has become more prominent after a police raid on the gang's Invercargill headquarters early this month.
Police searched a Teviot St house and the Severn St headquarters after city pharmacies reported gang associates trying to buy pseudoephedrine-based products, a key substance used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, or P.
Mr Newton-Te Kahu went public after the police searches, saying the Invercargill chapter wanted to change direction, work on a better future for its families and move away from its violent past.
"As president it's my job to actually decide these things. We've never had a structured cycle of work and employment and positive things...I want to pave a new way for the Mongrel Mob in Invercargill." He was unconcerned what other Mob chapters thought about what was happening in Invercargill, he said.
"With respect, what happens in my backyard stays in my backyard.
Any younger members who disagreed with the chapter's new direction could leave, he said.
"I want to see them get into employment and start employment and get off the drugs.
"I'm 37 but I feel 60. Those hard days of warmongering have caught up on me and I don't want the new generation going through that because they won't survive the first year.
Mr McCloy said gangs had traditionally resorted to violence and crime to exist and if members wanted to change direction then leaving the gang was the simplest option.
Continued action, such as a reduction in offending by members and associates of the gang, spoke louder than "rhetoric", he said.
- The Southland Times
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