Former Māori Party Leader Dame Tariana Turia was moved to tears after attending a public event called Mana Whānau held at the Waikato Headquarters of the Mongrel Mob.
"If the women believe that is a pathway forward for them to give expression to the essence of who they are, that this will make a difference to them and their families, of course, I will support them," says Dame Turia.
A group of wahine toa rallied together against child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide to empower women and encourage the establishment of a new women’s chapter.
However, Dame Turia is disappointed in statements by National leader Simon Bridges regarding the party's Gang Plan for 2020.
The action plan released last month looks to "crack down hard on the gangs," Bridges said.
“It wasn't my experience when I was in coalition with the National Party and I think it's all about votes,” Dame Turia says.
“In the end, we want to be in control with our own lives and, to be frank with you, if they were to give us the resources to do that none of us will need to go to parliament,” she says.
Bridges also claims there has been an increase of more than 1400 people joining gangs since 2017. In response, the government has pointed to 1200 offenders having been sent from Australia to New Zealand during this period. Since then, Kingdom have had another 250 members join them in the Waikato, says Kingdom President Sonny Fatupaito.
Paula Ormsby, who will lead the Mongrel Mob Wahine Toa group, is supported by the Kingdom chapter. This comes as more than 20 women attended the Mana Whanau event.
Ormsby says the paradigm shift to establish a gang for women by the end of 2020, stands for zero tolerance for violence, criminal activity and drug addictions.
“It’s about mana wahine, it's about our women being able to have their voice heard and knowing that traditionally our voices were just as important as our men’s.”
The Wahine Toa chapter will give women, whose whānau members connect them to the mob, a voice that they have never had until now. The goal is not to recruit more women into the mob, but to empower those who are already there, it is said.