Violence Absent at Gang Summit
NZ Herald, March 7, 2005
Fears of violence between rival gang members meeting alongside the Sensible Sentencing Trust at the weekend dissolved as patched gang leaders sat side by side listening to the positive messages delivered at a summit relating to law and order, drugs, gangs and community leadership.
The head tutor, New York corporate psychologist John Wareham acted decisively, setting the peaceful tone for what some would later call a miracle.
By the end of the weekend, gang members from both sides pledged to take messages back to create better family situations, and to regather at some stage to keep the process alive.
Veteran Mob member John Nepe-Apatu, who sat throughout side-by-side with a Black Power leader from Wellington, talked of the seed that had been put in the ground, and what the leaders had to do “to make it grow”.
Sensible Sentencing Trust’s spokesman, Garth McVicar, spoke with confidence of what he had heard, as did the organisation’s patron Sir Russell Pettigrew. Both men said they had learned much, and could take messages back to others to help guide change towards the ultimate goals of a society where family prosperity and community safety prevailed.
Mr. Wareham credited Black Power life member and Napier-based gang behaviour consultant Denis O’Reilly with coordinating the successful gathering. Mr. O’Reilly emphasised that it was not about getting the gangs together, but teaching leaders their role in their own destinies, and the destinies of those who relied on them. - NZPA