7 New Zealand gang leaders, representing 4 of the country’s most notorious street gangs, came together in a video to urge their “whanau” to get vaxxed against the Covid virus.
Denis O’Reilly, Harry Tam, Stephen Daley, Paula Ormsby,Ta’alili To’omalatai were amongst the leaders who were contacted to help spread the public service announcement to members of the street gangs and the “whanau”, their extended families, to get vaccinated.
“This is not all about gangs, this is all about our whānau (family), one thing we need to be clear about is that this is not about the government telling us, it is about the experts telling the government, that is getting us to vaccinate to protect ourselves.” – Harry Tam, Mongrel Mob gang member.
The move was initiated by Willie Jackson, minister for Maori Development in an attempt to protect those who are in the fringes of society from the deadly virus as reported by the New Zealand Herald.
“The idea is to get them to mobilise their guys. It’s not about supporting gangs, it’s about supporting families. You can say anything you like about these guys… they have a love for their people. It’s good to see.” – Willie Jackson, Minister for Maori Development.
The video was compiled and edited by Jackson’s son, Hikarungi Jackson. Willie also added that no taxpayers money was used in the production of the video to pay his son and it came out of his own pocket.
Netizens applauded the brilliant move by the minister in an attempt to reach out to those who are the hardest to reach in this pandemic.
Terrific work, @WillieJLabour (and Hikurangi), this is incredibly valuable mahi. This short video will have more cut through with certain communities than anything else that's been done. https://t.co/JVuDtsjAbW
— Jarrod Gilbert (@JarrodGilbertNZ) November 2, 2021
While there were others who seemed to think that it is just another propaganda by the NZ government for more votes.
Some said that painting the gangs in a good light is detrimental towards the society at large.
And then there are conspiracy theorists who believe that it is an agenda for the gangs to push out more drugs in the society. The street gangs are apparently notorious for selling meth.
Jackson mentioned that he was able to sit down with the leaders because he grew up around them and he knew that they were all about protecting their families.
“I put my hand up to do it. I’ve been brought up around a lot of these guys. Knowing most of them and meeting some through the community groups gives me an access most ministers don’t have.” – Willie Jackson.
Jackson’s mother, Dame Temuranga Batley-Jackson or more commonly known as Dame June is well known for her Maori activist work, long service with the parole board and rehabilitation works with these communities.
Reporter’s Opinions: At the end of the day, the only way to get through to those on the fringes is via the voices they trust the most.
No country is immune to anti-vax sentiment and it is hard to reach these people who grew up rough, with a reason to distrust the government and their initiatives.
While I don’t condone the idea of gangs or joining them, gotta admit their sense of loyalty to their people is to be appreciated.
Yes, the usual stereotype is that these gangs are responsible for a decaying society, drugs, bla bla bla but for once, look at them from a different perspective. Perhaps some of them are trying to reform their people from the inside and it takes a lot of work.
Frankly, I think it is a brilliant idea to collaborate with the street gang leaders because they are those the street kids trust as figures of authority.
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