Simon Bridges doubles down on Tauranga Hospital gang brawl claim

Author
Luke Kirkness, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 15 Jun 2021, 8:18PM
National MP Simon Bridges. (Photo / George Novak)
National MP Simon Bridges. (Photo / George Novak)

Simon Bridges doubles down on Tauranga Hospital gang brawl claim

Author
Luke Kirkness, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 15 Jun 2021, 8:18PM

Simon Bridges is doubling down on his account of an alleged brawl between gang members at Tauranga Hospital over the weekend.

But an anonymous person, who said they witnessed Saturday's events, saw it through a different lens and told the Bay of Plenty Times there was no gang fight.

The witness did say there were a number of gang members in and around the hospital.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board remains tight-lipped about the events and police said they had no information about a gang being involved.

Police were called to a "report of disorder" in the Tauranga Hospital carpark about 3.15pm on Saturday, a spokesperson said.

A motorist was said to be involved in an altercation with a couple in the carpark. One police unit attended but there were no issues.

A witness, who spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times anonymously, confirmed the disorder took place but said they "definitely were not gang members".

It comes after Tauranga MP Simon Bridges claimed on social media he witnessed a gang fight in the carpark while visiting his ill father on Saturday.

"Patched gang members had taken over the entrance and someone was being badly beaten up in the carpark in a gang fight."

In a text message today, Bridges said he didn't see the people in the carpark wearing patches but said they were dressed in red.

"Some may say this was a coincidence. I doubt this very much," he said.

Bridges claimed on social media that an upstanding member of the community backed up his version of events, however, they would not come forward.

Bridges also wrote that the person also told him a gang member was later operated on for life-threatening stab wounds they sustained during an incident in the carpark.

"They believe what I saw would have been part of surrounding events," he said in a Facebook post on Monday.

"The reason this matters is not to do with me personally. It's that gang presence and violence is growing and getting worse like never before and our authorities should not downplay it.''

Bridges said the alleged incident was not the fault of the DHB or the police.

A police spokesperson said there was nothing reported to them about a stabbing incident in the hospital carpark.

The witness who spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times said there were gang members at the hospital on Saturday but they did not see any of them fighting.

"It was just like a family visit; they weren't disturbing anyone," the witness said.

"The security guards were walking between the A&E and the hospital, there were no altercations or anything. No one was told to leave, nothing happened."

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board would only say it was continuing to investigate the incident and would not provide CCTV footage.

On the Tauranga Hospital Facebook page, the DHB asked for anyone who witnessed the incident to contact it to help with its investigation.

"Meanwhile we can assure the public that our security team will be maintaining [a] presence at the hospital entrance as normal."