Everything listed under: Hitching

  • Visiting the gang house and other adventures while hitching to Hamilton

    I've had my thinking really challenged this weekend and I'm stoked about it. Here's a little story about how putting yourself out there in interesting situations can really open your eyes.

    My flatmate Sarah Penny (formally Randell) got married on Saturday 18 April. We live in Wellington and she got married in Hamilton. I needed to get my way to Hamilton by Saturday so I figured hitching hiking would be the chearpest and most fun way to go. I hitch around the place a little. I have a good time doing it and have had many an interetsing ride but this one was really eye opening. I hit the road about 11:30am on Friday 17 April. My ideal spot to start from was taken by a police car for a while but once it was gone, it didn't take long to get a ride. I was picked up by a white guy who spoke like he hung around a lot of Maori people as his Maori pronunciation was excellent, he seemed to speak the language and he said "Bro, Cussie, Chur" all the time. He was a good guy to talk to.

    I jumped in the car and the first thing he said was "I've just got to pop into the office for a moment and then we will be on the road" so we stopped outside his office and he gets outm leaves me the keys and says : Now don't rip me off ok?" and runs inside. I wasn't about to rip him off and just sat waiting thinking about how trusting this guy was.I'm not sure I would have left my car like that.

    When he got back and we were on the road, we started the conversation about who we are and what we did. He told me his name was Den and he was a Resultant, which menas he gets results for people. I asked him a if that was Eningeering systems performance or people management. He siad it was like mediation etc so more to do with people. When pressed a little more he said he actually did a lot of work with gangs. Now that got me interested. How does someone get into gang mediation? I'm dead sure a gang doesn't just let you into the middle of their issues, so you must need to be on the inside to work in that sort of environment. Sure enough it turns out Den is a fully patched member of the Black Power. Not only that but he's a senior leading member for life

    So I'm in Levin on my way to Taupo with a senior Black Power leader and I've got another few hours to go. I thought "I can either shut up now and don't find out anything that will make him hunt me down, or I can keep asking questions until he doesn't want to talk anymore" I went with the later idea and kept asking him questions. I found out some interesting stuff.

    In a nutshell Den works with the gangs to help them sort out their issues. For a long time Den organised the Black Power and seems to have been good at it. For the last 35 years Den has been working with the Goverernment to try and make change in the gangs and help educate the gangs. Den runs several youth work programmes where gang members who have studied youth work and making positive differences to the lives of gang family youth.

    One thing that Den is most passionate about is getting rid of 'P' and Methanphetimine from the gangs. Den tells me that the gangs have lost more brothers to meth than to any number of gang killings, alcohol related deaths, road accidents etc. Meth just sends their boys crazy and then they end up doing dumb things. Den's personal main goal in life seems to be the eradication of P fro the t gangs. It's interesting to her him talk beceause I didnt think affiliates thought much about the damage that was cause by their actions. I guess I was wrong,

    It turns out that there are a lot of leaders in both the Black Power and the mungral mob who hate meth and want to see it striped out of the gangs. While driving through Turangi near the end of my ride, Den was talking on the phone to someone about how some planning was going. When Den realised the guy was in Turangi he suggested he pop in. So off we head to visit someone in Turangi.

    At this point I'm sitting here cracking up thinking "I'm just some random hitch-hiker who has been left alone in a flash car with the keys, been shopping with this guy, and now I'm off to hang out with his mate - how strange is this". I'm all good with it and this is the very reason I like hitching - the random situations I end up in.

    So we pull up to this tidy looking house in Turangi. It wasn't flash as I'm sure you can appreciate. Nothing is flash in Turangi but it is nicely kept. I was thinking that I would just sit in the car while the driver popped inside but he gets out and says "come in for a coffee mate" so out I get and follow Den inside.

    Inside Den yells out "Kia ora" and the same greeting is offered back. Round to the left we enter the dining room/kitchen and there is standing a short stocky Maori lad with a decent number of tattoos and a clam friendly smile. Den shakes his hand a they share a hongi, then so do I. The owner of the house offers us both a coffee "You fellas' want a drink aye?" and starts to boil the kettle. As he turns around I realise he is wearing a Mongrel Mob patch. So this means I'm sitting in a senior Mongrel Mob leaders house with a senior Black Power leader - what an interesting place to be. These guys seem the best of mates and Den tells me they have worked together for years.

    Den and the owner of the house sit down and start to talk through some incredibly interesting and noble work they are doing. They talk through a recent meeting and work they have both been doing with getting Meth out of the gangs, they talk about working with Maraes' and gangs to figure out a workable policy for wearing gang insignia at Tangis and other such occasions.

    The thing that strikes me is how genuine these guys both are. They are earnestly seeking a positive way forward on these and other issues. They aren't to interested in the violence or being arrogant about their options. They talk openly about the views of both sides and they consider all views with equal weight and validity. I was honestly surprised but I guess I shouldn't be.

    Both these lads are tertiary educated and have their wits about them. They are level headed and well spoken. They are both senior members of their respected gangs and they taught me a thing or two about judging a book before I've even read it.

    I love hitching - it opens my eyes and offers interesting situations. I once heard someone say "if you want to be an interesting person you need to put yourself in interesting places". Hitching is certainly one way of doing that.