A senior Mongrel Mob gang leader in Porirua is urging Pacific youth and men not to fall into the trap of drug addiction.
Dennis Makalio led one of the workshops at the recent Gathering of the 3000 fono in Wellington last weekend.
Dennis Makalio at the Gathering of the 3000 in Wellington. Photo/ Facebook- Gathering of the 3000.
He's one of the founding members of NZ P-Pull, a group that raises awareness in local communities about the dangers of drug addiction.
A Household Drug Survery by the Ministry of Health in 2015 found that 26,000 people aged 16 to 64, had used methamphetamine that year. It also reported that Maori were nearly twice as likely to be users.
Makalio says methamphetamine is an evil drug that's destroying families.
"I've seen the ugly side of it for the past 17 years," he says. "I've had a lot of friends die of exploded hearts, expanded hearts and clamped lungs. I started seeing their kids on it too."
Makalio says mainstream counselling and rehabilitation services aren't effective.
"What works for some doesn't work for all. We need former addicts working with addicts."
He says the youngest person he's seen addicted to the drug was 14 years old. Makalio and NZ P-Pull are requesting that schools allow them to talk to students about the drug.
"Most addicts that have hit rock bottom, if they were educated they would not have went there in the first place."
Makalio says the methamphetamine addiction is like no other, and Pacific people need to be aware of it.
"It's a closed subject and they need to address it," he says. "When one person is on it, they take the whole tribe down."
The Gathering of the 3000 spokesperson, Kerupi Tofilau Tavita, says the conference has prompted the call to continue the conversation in Auckland and Christchurch.