Ongoing gang tensions and a lack of security resources has seen a community leader in Tāneatua call for more support and community-based solutions in the Eastern Bay of Plenty town.
Police last week charged two men, including one from Tāneatua, after a 48-year-old man was taken to Whakatāne Hospital in June, and later died.
It was deemed a gang-related assault. Tāneatua is located around 13km inland from Whakatāne.
Tāneatua Community Board's Toni Boynton told Te Karere there had been "a lot of" heightened issues concerning gangs in the town over the past few years, and said having a police station, and CCTV cameras would help the community feel safer.
She said there was a "desperate need" for security.
"It’s really hard if we don’t have that presence of police. They are there, but it seems like because we don’t have the station there, there seems to be a lawlessness particularly in our rural communities.
"Tāneatua is one of the only communities that doesn’t have CCTV cameras. We have other townships in the Whakatāne district who have that.
"We need support for things like that so the residents themselves can feel secure in their own homes."
Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi told Te Karere he felt for the community of Tāneatua, and agreed that if there is only one policeman in the area, they needed more support.
Boynton said the community itself has had many hui in a bid to seek solutions and potentially meet with the gangs to create a safer environment for their children.
But she said it wasn’t just a "gang issue, but a people issue", and factors like poverty and drug addiction needed to be taken into account.
"The past few years, there’s been a lot of heightened issues and deaths concerning rivalry with gangs. But also P has a lot to do with violent activities.
"I think we need to pull together with everybody. Local government and councils need to look at supporting small communities with resources as well as solutions of how they protect their communities."
Boynton is calling for a community meeting to address the issues.
"Before it gets any worse we definitely need to call a community hui to look at this issue, to work with the leaders of those gangs, and our whānau who are part of those gangs and how we can work together to protect all of us."