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Gang members in New Zealand may soon have to cover up their facial tattoos

Gang members in New Zealand may soon have to cover up their facial tattoos

The National Party, which won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections earlier this month, first wants the ban on wearing gang symbols on clothing to be better enforced. However, there are fears that gang members may want to defy this ban by tattooing the logo on their faces.

That’s why the Conservative Party wants to expand the law and force gang members to cover up those tattoos: “If gangsters think they can ban gang symbols by putting swastikas and offensive tattoos on their faces, we’ll take action. National Party police spokesman Mark Mitchell told national broadcaster RNZ.

New Zealand has struggled with gangs since the early 1960s. Later the Harley Davidson Riders group formed the first branch outside the United States of the Hells Angels, a motorcycle club often associated with criminal activity.

Later, gangs appeared, many of them from the original population, Maori, or from the Polynesian islands. The Mongrel gang, formed in the 1960s, is the largest gang, with more than a thousand members in and out of prison, according to unofficial figures.


After a long tussle, New Zealand’s parliament passed a law in 2013 banning citizens from wearing a gang symbol on clothing. Signs have been put up in public places across the country indicating this ban. Gang members quickly found a way to circumvent the ban. Some have their organization’s logo tattooed on their bodies, preferably prominently on their faces.

New Zealand is not the first country to do so when it bans gang ‘face advertising’. Neighboring Australian state Western Australia also took that step in 2021. A spokesperson for the National Party also mentions this. “You sometimes hear stories of old gang members waking up in the morning and putting foundation on their face first thing,” Mitchell told RNZ.

Mark Lachs, an Australian gang expert affiliated with the Queensland University of Technology, is skeptical Guardian Does the action have a greater effect? Another problem is that police must distinguish between gang symbols and Maori symbols, which are often used interchangeably.

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