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Gangs cause residents to flee state homes

Published: 5:25AM Friday May 04, 2012 Source: Fairfax

Wellington residents are fleeing their state homes complaining of intimidation by gangsters, including that of Black Power members who wiped their noses on a young boy for wearing the wrong colour.

Occupants of the Housing New Zealand flats in Newtown's Coromandel St have told of unsavoury and violent acts by a group of men living at one of the properties.

The incidents include attempted extortion, intimidation and blood being smeared inside someone's home.

None of the residents would be named, because they feared retribution.

They said a woman and her two children had moved into the flats about a year ago but were soon joined by several gang members.

One resident said she was moving out of her flat yesterday with her young daughter after constant abuse, including threatening notes that were pinned to her door demanding money.

On Tuesday night her car windscreen was shattered, then on Wednesday night she was verbally abused.

Police were called and one of the gang members was arrested for breach of bail.

Two weeks ago all four tyres on her car were slashed and her former partner was beaten by five people who used weapons including a golf club, she said.

After the latest incident she started packing her belongings and put them into storage, even though she had nowhere to go.

"It took me about two years to get all the furniture; it took me a long time to make it feel like home."

Angry residents attended a meeting at the Kilbirnie Housing NZ office yesterday, months after they first began complaining.

Another woman who fled the complex in December because of the men said she left over fears for her children's safety.

Some of the gang members had wiped their noses on her young son because he had been wearing red, the colour of rival gang the Mongrel Mob.

Her flat had also been broken into, with $200 of meat stolen and blood smeared on the walls. "Is it going to take someone being killed to sort this out?" she said.

Every time police arrived residents were unwilling to give formal statements because they were so scared, she said.

Housing NZ Wellington regional tenancy services manager Jackie Pivac said staff were working with police to resolve the situation.

"We understand that people are feeling unsafe, which is of great concern to us, and we will be taking swift action to find alternative housing for those people."

Housing NZ did not tolerate antisocial behaviour or illegal activity, she said.

A police spokeswoman confirmed police were aware of the Black Power presence and said officers had been called to the flats several times during the past three months.