14 Oct 2016

'Where are they going to go... Hamilton?'

7:30 pm on 14 October 2016

Many locals in the small Waikato town of Ngaruawahia appear to be welcoming a local gang's crackdown on those dealing P, although some wonder what will come next.

Tribal Huks leader Jamie Pink has given an ultimatum to methamphetamine dealers: stop and leave the town by 6.30pm tonight.

Does Ngaruawahia have a meth problem or is the gang's ultimatum simply patch protection? Listen to more on Checkpoint with John Campbell:

Waikato District mayor Allan Sanson said while it was likely there was the odd dealer of the class A drug in town, he had seen "none of it whatsoever".

"I walk the streets of Ngaruawahia just about on a daily basis and I've seen no sign of it and I know what someone on P looks like."

But one resident, Sam Chapman, said she would usually see at least three people high on the drug each Saturday and Sunday at the petrol station she worked at.

"And you notice it, they can't stand up, they can't hold a conversation. It's like, how are you driving? It's pretty scary."

Since moving from Auckland two years ago, she had seen a lot more of the drug in Ngaruawahia.

"I've had a couple of incidences where I've had dropped baggies of meth in this store here. Yeah, so that's not cool considering we get a lot of schoolchildren [who] come in and buy lollies and stuff after school."

Ngaruawahia resident Sam Chapman says methamphetamine is a problem for the small Waikato town.

Ngaruawahia resident Sam Chapman says methamphetamine is a problem for the small Waikato town. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

She had noticed dropped bags a handful of times, she said.

"I've picked up bags of meth and flushed them."

Ms Chapman said there had been a spike in crime over the last year, which she blamed on young people going after the drug.

"There's a methamphetamine epidemic in this country and small rural towns are suffering."

Visible presence ahead of deadline

It's this problem that the Tribal Huk has warned must end.

There could be no mistaking the gang's presence in the town about midday, with patched members coming and going from the shops along the main street.

Ngaruawahia township.

Some residents told RNZ they welcomed the crackdown on meth. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Mr Pink, who has avoided RNZ's requests for an interview, could be seen driving down the main road in a car packed with other members pulling the gang's salute.

At a community meeting yesterday about the town's safety, Mr Pink voiced his concerns about P and warned all dealers to get out of the town by 6.30pm or he would be paying them a visit.

He told RNZ last night he was "too busy rounding these guys up" to talk further about the ultimatum.

Ngaruawahia Community House manager Anne Ramsay said she'd never seen the effects of the drug on residents, although she knew of people who had to move out of housing because of P contamination.

"Jamie is possibly in a better position than us, possibly moves in different circles, so he's probably in a better position to notice it more than we are.

"But yeah, I wouldn't have thought Ngaruawahia had a bigger epidemic of P than anywhere else, or any less. I think it's probably normal if you look at P nationwide."

She said, prior to Mr Pink bringing up the ultimatum at the meeting, a number of people had voiced that they felt very safe in the community.

"If I was doing P and I heard Jamie say that, I think I'd move, but I'm not. I don't know, I think he's bloody minded enough to do it because he's publicly announced that half past six is the time. So I can see him carrying on and doing something. What that something looks like... If I was local police, I'd be worried."

'Where are they going to go... Hamilton?'

Regardless of whether the drug was visible or not in the community, many locals were in favour of the gang's ultimatum.

Local Bottle-O manager Taljit Singh said while he'd never had a problem at the shop, he welcomed the crackdown.

"That's a good thing if they're kicking them out," he said.

A woman, who asked to be known only as Hayley, said the gang was just concerned for the community and seemed to be the only ones willing to speak up about it.

"I definitely think they need to go, for sure, but where are they going to go? Are they going to go to the next city? To Hamilton?"

Police declined to be interviewed but, in a statement, Senior Sergeant Mike Henwood said methamphetamine was a serious concern.

Tribal Huk gang member standing on Ngaruawahia's main street.

A gang member poses for a photo on the town's main street. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

"We urge members of the public to assist us by passing on any relevant information they may have so that it can be properly investigated, and we reinforce people should not take matters into their own hands."

Police did not condone threats of violence or intimidation, he said.

"Any threatening incident reported to police will be taken seriously and responded to appropriately."