Heavens, we're the good guys, say bikers
They may look like a bunch of bad boy bikers, but The Redeemed want to assure the public when they ride through Queenstown on Thursday for their public banner ceremony that they're definitely the "good guys".
Queenstown chairman of the expanding South Island branch of the national motorcycle ministry Blair McKenzie said the group, founded last year, has already been turning heads.
Leather-clad members on Harleys wearing the group's embossed banner on their backs have prompted concerned calls to police that "a gang" was in town, Mr McKenzie was told by one officer.
"He said to me they've had to tell the public that, ‘if they've got a cross on their back and something saying ‘The Redeemed' they're harmless'," Mr McKenzie said.
Senior Sergeant John Fookes, of Queenstown, said he was not aware of the concerned calls, but police were "not remotely concerned" about The Redeemed riding into town.
"As long as people aren't involved in any ratbag stuff - and these guys definitely aren't - then there are no concerns from police."
The South Island group will be "bannering up" five new members at a public barbecue on St Omer Park along Lake Esplanade from 6pm.
Darcy Warren, Stephen Ward, Mark McIvor, Roy Hislop and Carie McCarthy will receive their official Redeemed jackets and banners, while three new supporters, Francis Brundell, Mark Officer and Tania Evans, will be awarded "supporters" patches'.)
Auckland founder of The Redeemed Amos Ali and two other North Island members will present the new crew with their biker vests and banners.
Mr Amos, a founding member of the Head Hunters gang in the 1960s, founded The Redeemed in 1997 after leaving the gang life and becoming a Christian.
He will be joined at the ceremony by Dunedin member and national White Ribbon Ambassador Takurua Tawera, who left a life of drug dealing as a Mongrel Mob associate almost 30 years ago and also became a Christian.
The public is welcome to come along and check out the bikes and join in the barbecue, or join the group. "And we won't hit them over the head with a Bible or a club," Mr McKenzie said.
"I just really want the public to be reassured as to what we're about. We're not doing, selling or taking drugs. We're a Christian motorcycle ministry out and about doing good in our community."
The bikers will ride out of town together on February 14 headed for Dunedin and Timaru to attend "The Gathering 3" - a Christian biker rally at Raincliff.
The South Island group formed last year has put its hand up to work with the Otago University Students Association "cooking up a storm" and giving away free food at Dunedin's notorious Hyde Street Keg Party in April.
"We'll be getting food into the bellies of those young drinkers and offering non-alcoholic drinks," Mr McKenzie said.
The group will also be handing out free food at Children's Day in Queenstown on March 2.
The Southland Times