Black Power New Zealand president Mark Pitman has rolled up his sleeve to get a Covid-19 jab today, wanting to set an example to thousands of other gang members around the country.
By Simon Mercep
"I'm a leader and I lead by example," Pitman told 1News.
He said it was up to the country's other 100 Black Power chapters to follow suit, but he wanted to show he was getting the vaccine for his own safety and for the safety of his whānau.
Pitman got his jab at a mobile vaccine clinic set up near the Black Power headquarters in the Auckland suburb of Mount Wellington.
The clinic was run by medical staff from Manurewa Marae.
"We're responsible for the vaccinations but we need community leadership like Mark Pitman and Black Power to come out and say, 'whānau, we need to get vaccinated', because that's the only way we're going to get out of Covid," the marae's chief executive, Takutai Kemp, said.
Canterbury University gang expert, Dr Jarrod Gilbert, told 1News gang leaders can play an influential role in society.
"When we think of the gangs we tend to just think of the patched members, when in reality they have partners, they have kids and they have connections deep into the community through whānau and friends," he said.
"Whether we like it or not, in those types of communities, they are actually community leaders."
Black Power has worked with newly-formed welfare group Mārama Aotearoa in recent weeks to distribute food parcels across Auckland.
A local Mount Wellington auction house supplied a van and Manurewa Marae donated the kai packages. Gang members did the door to door deliveries.
"I think our Prime Minister said it - it's a team of 5 million. They are part of that 5 million," Mārama Aotearoa's Josh Chellatamby said.
Just over 100 gang members and others from the Mount Wellington area were vaccinated on Saturday.
"Black and white, stand to fight Covid-19," Pitman added.
Those behind the clinic hope the example set by Black Power means more will follow soon.