24 Oct 2017

Notorious bikie gang boss: 'I'm not here to threaten NZ'

3:01 pm on 24 October 2017

AJ Graham - who spent two and a half years in a prison after founding the Rebels biker gang in Tasmania - has voluntarily returned to New Zealand.

"When I came on Tuesday, as soon as I got outside the airport I kissed the ground to speak to the spirits and the gods that I'm back home," he told RNZ from a motel in Auckland.

"I'm not here to threaten New Zealand in any form or matter. I'm glad to be free and I feel good to be back here in New Zealand.

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Photo: 123RF

"I'll have respect for all, but you disrespect me and then you'll see me, y'know."

Since being incarcerated Graham has won his visa back three times, most recently last month in Australia's highest court which ruled his treatment was unconstitutional.

It didn't matter. Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton simply recancelled his visa for a third time.

"I fought the government, I beat them twice and the third time I thought, 'there's no justice where Peter Dutton and the Government of Australia making a mockery of the Queen's court'," Graham said.

"He had it in for bikers, for club people, he just had it in for New Zealanders more than anything, and Islanders as well."

AJ Graham pictured in Auckland.

AJ Graham pictured in Auckland. Photo: Facebook / AJ Graham

Graham's deportation made headlines on both sides of the Tasman after one of Australia's highest-profile immigration battles. One of 154 senior bikies targeted in an immigration-versus-crime clampdown since 2014, he got a rough sending off.

"Another one bites the dust" read one online post. "Totally self-inflicted" said another.

However, a third said: "Would much prefer someone like him here than the politicians that kicked him out".

Graham is 50, lived in Australia for 42 years, and leaves behind in Hobart his wife, three adult children and two daughters aged 11 and 12.

He was undecided on them returning to New Zealand but did not want to see them uprooted.

"I come to a point to voluntarily sign and voluntarily leave Australia and my children and grandchildren behind, because it's pointless, there's nothing else I can do. I've been to the Federal Court and the High Court."

"I'm a fighter through and through ... I'm proud to be a Māori and proud to be a warrior and I'm not afraid of anything."

He is not under a Returning Offenders Order, so refused to be fingerprinted or give a DNA sample to police who met him off the plane.

A life member of the Rebels, he dismissed fears that New Zealand police have previously voiced about how deported bikers were bolstering the ranks of violent gangs.

"We're not a threat to New Zealand. We're happy to be free ... we're happy to keep peace."

"I've got different sorts of shady friends but I also got nice friends and I've done a lot of charity work for the community."

He admits to having been locked up more than once for assault but, "I don't think Australians are afraid of me".

The New Zealand government needed to be braver in standing up for its citizens in Australia, Graham said. "Maybe I might even run in the politics."

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