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Head Hunter funeral: Incoming Police Minister Mark Mitchell ‘pleased’ with robust police response ahead of William ‘Bird’ Hines’ funeral

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Incoming Police Minister Mark Mitchell says he is pleased with the “robust” police response to an increased gang presence in Foxton ahead of what is expected to be New Zealand’s largest gang funeral.

Police continue to have a significant presence in the town north of Wellington, where three gangs have gathered for what is expected to possibly be the biggest gang tangi in New Zealand’s history.

“It’s very clear they have communicated there is going to be zero tolerance for gang members breaking laws or intimidating members of the public, or disrupting and interrupting people going about their daily business,” said Mitchell.

Police officers have been visiting businesses in the community to check up on them and offer reassurance. “These visits will continue over the coming days,” a police spokesperson said.

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Incoming Police Minister Mark Mitchell. Photo / Jed Bradley
Incoming Police Minister Mark Mitchell. Photo / Jed Bradley

Mitchell said “it seems like a pretty robust response” to the Foxton gathering.

Around 60 bikes arrived in Foxton last night after they set off on their 500km mass funeral ride from the Head Hunters’ East headquarters in Auckland yesterday morning.

The gang is farewelling “feared and revered” Head Hunter William “Bird” Hines.

Police said locals can expect to see an increased police presence ahead of the funeral which is expected to take place tomorrow.

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The body of Head Hunter boss William Hines is being driven in this van during a mass ride to Foxton. Photo / Hayden Woodward
The body of Head Hunter boss William Hines is being driven in this van during a mass ride to Foxton. Photo / Hayden Woodward

A stolen vehicle with weapons inside was seized but there had been no significant incidents overnight.

Yesterday’s procession was monitored by the police Eagle helicopter, after fears it could bring the traffic network to its knees.

About 100 motorcyclists were reported to be riding together at one point in the day, Assistant Commissioner Mike Johnson said.

Johnson said the number of riders had “swelled and reduced” as the procession continued down the country.

Prominent gang leader William "Bird" Hines.
Prominent gang leader William “Bird” Hines.

Police impounded one motorcycle and seized a stolen car. Johnson said several people were arrested related to the seizures.

Police also gave out several tickets and failed one person on an evidential breath test.

“Our expectations around behaviour have been made very clear,” Johnson said. “Those travelling and attending any of the procession … need to know police will act on any unlawful activity.”

“We continue to ask that anyone who witnesses any unlawful or unsafe behaviour gets in touch with us via 105 either over the phone or online. When you are making your report, please advise if you have any videos or photos of the offending.”

Head Hunters set off from their Ellerslie pad for the funeral of William Hines. Photo / Hayden Woodward
Head Hunters set off from their Ellerslie pad for the funeral of William Hines. Photo / Hayden Woodward

“Anyone who finds themselves in a position where they do not feel safe is asked to contact police immediately on 111.”

More than 100 police officers have been deployed to monitor the ride and Johnson said a large police presence would remain “through the next phases” of their response and as required.

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He addressed the riders directly: “Attend and go about your business in a lawful way and I’m sure this will go off with the appropriate respect for the deceased and the family.”



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