"This is about understanding, this is about empathy and this is fundamentally about your safety."
Those of the words of Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell spoken at a public meeting called after a spike in gang violence in the Western Bay of Plenty.
Roughly 250 people have gathered at a public meeting which is being facilitated by Powell and the Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber.
Police Area Commander Inspector Clifford Paxton and the Bay of Plenty District Health Board's chief inspector of the health sector Simon Everett are also present.
After opening with a prayer, Paxton said he "needed to walk a fine line" tonight.
"We need to keep our focus wide and to the future, not just to the past," he said.
Paxton also said the public needed to remember gang members were individuals, just as police officers were.
Unfortunately, the Western Bay provided lots of opportunities for gangs to do business, he said, and that was part of the issue.
Paxton believed different workgroups were needed to work through the issue at local, regional and national levels.
Powell told the crowd they were there because the dynamics of gangs in New Zealand had "changed remarkably".