An epidemic of ‘boy racers’ exhibiting anti-social driving behaviour has been noted nationwide, with groups travelling in convoys to various regions – including Wairarapa on December 30.
“They’ve gained a lot of traction around New Zealand; we are looking at a trend for our young people here in New Zealand to do what they do in Australia and throughout the world,” Wairarapa Police Area Commander Inspector Scott Miller said.
“Wellington and now the Wairarapa is a bit of an epicentre for the lower north,”
Two prominent groups participated in the recent motorised mayhem in Wairarapa – one from Hawke’s Bay that refers to themselves as “211 Mafia”, and a local outfit from Masterton with the moniker “Masterton Menace”.
The groups have been described as “extremely organised”, with participants often travelling long distances to pre-planned events.
Miller said police had to be careful with their response to the groups – which have been likened to gangs – as a “huge majority of those spectators were just your normal kids”.
Currently, legislation allows police to seize vehicles if an offender is arrested and convicted three times within a four-year period, and “We can now take vehicles in lieu of fines,” Miller said.
An earlier ‘boy racer’ event about six months ago in which more than 100 vehicles travelled through the region resulted in a dozen cars being taken off the roads and another 15 identified and later impounded in other regions.
Wairarapa MP Mike Butterick said he has been speaking with local police and Minister of Police Mark Mitchell about the ‘boy racer’ incidents across the region.
“National 100 per cent supports the police,” Butterick said.
“There will be ongoing discussions with the Minister of Police and Scott and his team. Whatever police need to do so they can deal with it, we’re fully behind.”
Mitchell is “not super happy about” the recent incident in Wairarapa and will visit the region in the next few weeks.
“It is in no way acceptable that the police are threatened by a mob,” Butterick said.
“They were walking into a situation they didn’t have a lot of notice of and it could have got very, very volatile very quickly.”
For his part, Miller said that “what happened on December 30 is a big wake-up call, not only for the community, but for police as well”.