National | Gangs

Youth concerned over Waikato gang-related deaths

There's growing concern regarding youth in Waikato following the recent gang-related homicides in the region.

Hamilton youth worker Eugene Davis says the community needs to stop the increase of gang activity by focusing on troubled youth.

The Manager of Te Ahurei a Rangatahi says strengthening rangatahi and whānau is what they’re about.

“From the beginning (they learn) who they are, where they are from,” says Davis.

“For us, that's really important so that the youth are able to stand firm in their values, on their roots, no matter what they face.”

Police are investigating the murders of Wayne Noda (Huntly), Robert Nelson (Hamilton) and Mitchell Paterson (Ngāruawāhia), all of which happened within a period of two weeks this month.

Police say they were targeted individual acts within the gang community.

“Among our youth, there is a sense of fear among the community here in Hamilton when they're out on the street,” said Davis. “Everyone is on the alert since hearing about the homicides.”

Police are cautioning youth to stay away from trouble.

“In terms of their safety, if they're not involved with the gang or criminal world then they're not committing an offense,” said Detective Inspector Grahm Pitkethely.

“What's the best option for them?” asks Davis. “We are their mentors to guide them.  But from the start they have their dreams and aspirations.”

Davis says more mentors are needed from all communities to support youth in achieving their goals and decision-making.