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Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Zealand - Rebel gang leader surfaces as kids' boxing trainer

Boxing training run by the head of the Rebels motorcycle gxxg is a "thinly disguised recruiting tool" for children as young as 8, says Whangarei's top cop, Inspector Paul Dimery.

But Hohepa Rudolf, a kaumatua with the Smeatons Drive Community Hall Group. which has provided a small Raumanga hall for the boxing training, yesterday accused Mr Dimery of being "unfair and naughty" in trying to dictate behaviour in the south Whangarei suburb.
Mr Dimery had a clear message about not tolerating the gxxg when he addressed Whangarei District Council's monthly meeting this week, asking the community to reject gxxgs and allow the police to help.
"Gxxgs offer nothing but misery to your children. They offer cannabis, methamphetamine and violence. If you truly want that for your children, invite these people into your community. If you don't, police are here to assist and give advice," Mr Dimery said.
"To those communities who allow them to intergrate themselves by offering boxing lessons at your local halls, I can only offer my sincere sympathies for your gullibility.
He said gxxgs continued to "tax" each other.
Unpaid drug debts resulted in home invasions, which ultimately lead to more work for police and had neighbourhoods in constant fear.
After the meeting, Mr Dimery told the Northern Advocate the training had been going on for about six months in the Smeaton Community Hall at Raumanga and some of the children being trained by JJ Hepi, the leader of the Rebels gxxg, were as young as eight.
Concerned members of the community had approached police, but when Mr Dimery asked to be part of a community meeting his request was declined by "self-appointed" community leaders, who said they supported the boxing training by the gxxg leader.
"I don't believe they talk for the whole community,"Mr Dimery said.
The issue was not about boxing, as there were positives that came out of the sport.
"This is about gxxgs recruiting," he said.
Mr Rudolf said he would get the Police Commissioner's opinion on Mr Dimery's "unfair and naughty" statements before commenting on the use of the hall as a boxing gym.
"I'm not happy with the way he [Mr Dimery] has handled this. He should have come and spoken to us."
Use of the Smeatons Drive hall involved one man, not a gxxg.
"He hasn't done anything to us. Until he does we will try to work with him," Mr Rudolph said.
Raumanga people wanted to prevent crime, he said, but he didn't want Mr Dimery "telling me what to do in my community".
Otangarei Trust head and former Black Power member Martin Kaipo told the Advocate some community leaders could be naive, innocent or ignorant of the hidden intentions behind the gym.
"They [Rebels gxxg leaders] say they are just motorcycle enthusiasts, but some have been jailed for involvement with methamphetamine," he said.
"They have been trying to get a foothold in Whangarei.
"They tried in Otangarei and the majority of us are well aware of what is going on behind the scenes."
The Smeatons Drive hall is owned by the Whangarei District Council, which leases it to the community group.
Council group manager district living, Paul Dell, said that if the hall was not being vandalised and community group members were comfortable with its use the council had to be careful "it didn't jump in to decide whether some individual was suitable to use the hall".
Earlier this year the Rebels motorcycle gxxg moved into a building in Porowini Ave, a commercial area in Whangarei.
During Easter Weekend, patched members of the Rebels from New Zealand and Australian chapters held their first motorcycle run from the newly established Whangarei base and held an open day for the public.
Police said it was a publicity stunt to hide the fact they were recruiting members.
The gxxg claimed they were just a social riding group and are helping troubled youth in the area.
By July, after heavy police scrutiny, the Rebels gxxg had left the Porowini Ave property.
JJ Hepi could not be contacted for comment yesterday.