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Police make 9 arrests in probe on death of Mongrel Mob Barbarians boss

Author
Kurt Bayer,
Publish Date
Sat, 15 Jul 2023, 2:34pm

Police make 9 arrests in probe on death of Mongrel Mob Barbarians boss

Author
Kurt Bayer,
Publish Date
Sat, 15 Jul 2023, 2:34pm

Detectives working on slain Mongrel Mob Barbarians president Steven Taiatini’s case have made nine arrests so far and uncovered “a series of violent incidents” in the days leading up to his death.

Taiatini, 45, was killed in what was described as a “disorder-related incident” on St John St, Ōpōtiki, on June 9.

His death sparked tension in the small eastern Bay of Plenty township, with the fears of retribution causing schools to close and stopping public transport.

There were also wild scenes during his funeral procession in Whakatāne which involved hundreds of motorbikes, cars, utes and vans that brought into question the police handling of gang tangi. National Party justice spokesman and former police officer Mark Mitchell said a clear message that police “controlled the town, not gangs” needed to be sent.

The funeral procession for Taiatini led to criticism of the police's handling. Photo / Andrew WarnerThe funeral procession for Taiatini led to criticism of the police's handling. Photo / Andrew Warner

Today, Detective Inspector Craig Rawlinson, field crime manager for Bay of Plenty Police, released a statement, updating the police investigation.

“Our investigation so far has uncovered a series of violent incidents in Ōpōtiki that led up to Steven’s death the day he died,” Rawlinson said.

Nine people have been arrested so far, he said, including for aggravated burglary, firearms offences and violent offences.

No arrests, however, have been made over Taiatini’s death.

“These people are now before the courts,” Rawlinson added.

“Our inquiries into the full circumstances of Steven’s death are ongoing, and we know there are witnesses who are yet to come forward to speak with us.

“We also believe there are video recordings of incidents that occurred that day in the community.”

Police are urging any witnesses who haven’t yet come forward to do so.

“We would also like to hear from anyone who has seen or who possesses video footage from that day to also get in touch,” Rawlinson added.

“You can do so by calling 105 and quoting file number 230610/2652, or online using ‘Update Report’.”

Part of the funeral procession for Mongrel Mob leader Steven Taiatini. Photo / Andrew WarnerPart of the funeral procession for Mongrel Mob leader Steven Taiatini. Photo / Andrew Warner

Eight days after the death, a 49-year-old man was charged with allegedly attempting to pervert the course of justice and was due to appear at Whakatāne District Court.

And also last month, police said they were seeking information on a burnt-out vehicle - which they later found - while those who knew Taiatini described him as a “good family man”.

Puwhakamua rehabilitation programme founder Billy Macfarlane Snr said Taiatini needed to be acknowledged for the “good stuff he’s done”.

“He’s worked seriously hard to help make changes in the methamphetamine harm space. He and his partner, Pauline, have done a lot of work even in Rotorua.”

Macfarlane said Taiatini’s death was a “tragedy” and that he was “going to be missed.”

“He wasn’t a bad guy. He was quite a pleasant fellow to talk to and he wanted to do good.

“That stuff doesn’t go away.”

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