Seven of New Zealand’s most notorious gang leaders have teamed up in a video to encourage their communities to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The concept was brought up by the minister for Maori development, Willie Jackson, following a discussion with the gang leaders.
After the meeting, the leaders provided footage that was edited by Jackson’s son, Hikurangi, and posted on the minister’s Facebook page on Nov. 3.
The video features members and leaders from four of the country’s best-known street gangs — the Black Power, Head Hunters, Mongrel Mob, and King Cobras.
“This is not all about gangs, this is all about our whānau (family),” Harry Tam of the Mongrel Mob said. “One thing we need to be clear about is that this is not about the government telling us, it is about the experts telling the government, that is getting us to vaccinate to protect ourselves.”
“We did this for our tamariki (children) and our mokopuna (grandchildren),” Black Power member Michale Te Pou, said, adding that he was a father, a grandfather, an uncle and a brother.
The coronavirus outbreak in New Zealand has now reached a total of 3,643 cases, and 83% of those infected are Maori and Pacific New Zealanders, who make up 27% of the country’s total population combined.
“These gangs are the most difficult people to reach in terms of health messaging and getting them all to agree to vaccinate was a victory for common sense and public health,” Jackson said in his Facebook post of the video.