Smoke from motorcycle burnouts has filled the streets around the farewell of Head Hunters gang member Taranaki “Ardie” Fuimaono in central Auckland, with the funeral procession now heading south from Grey Lynn to Māngere.
More than 300 mourners, among them a large number of gang members, gathered at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Great North Rd, Grey Lynn, for the 43-year-old’s funeral. Fuimaono died shortly after being taken into police custody almost a week ago.
Dozens of gang members on motorcycles could be seen doing burnouts outside St Joseph’s, clouds of smoke drifting across Great North Rd, part of which had been blocked off by police.
Fuimaono’s coffin was taken from the church just after 12.30pm, bound next for Canal Rd in Avondale, a Newstalk ZB reporter at the scene said.
Several more stops were planned before the funeral procession reached Māngere.
Earlier, the Newstalk ZB reporter said there were hundreds of patched gang members standing outside the church; as the funeral service was taking place still inside.
“It’s very quiet at the moment. You could hear a pin drop.
“Everyone is just mingling. You can only hear a couple of laughs now and again. Some people are eating pies, just waiting.”
Road authorities had issued a notice telling motorists to avoid the area, if possible, or to allow for extra time for diversions around the intersection of Great North Rd and Coleridge St.
“To help manage traffic congestion in the area, police have put temporary cordons on Great North Rd between Williamson Ave and Coleridge St,” police said in a statement.
Cordons were also put in place on Crummer Rd and Coleridge St, police said.
Despite the large gang presence, there were not a lot of police officers on site, the Newstalk ZB reporter said.
However, the police Eagle helicopter hovered over the area for some time.
Some people have been spotted wearing white, while a large number of gang members are decked out in black and wearing their respective gang patches.
Members of at least six different gangs have seemingly called a truce to come together for the funeral.
Gangs seen represented at the funeral include Head Hunters, Hells Angels, Sons of Samoa, the Mongrel Mob and Black Power – some of whom are traditional rivals.
Some men decked in King Cobra patches are also in attendance. It’s understood Fuimaono is a former KC member.
Police issued a notice to the public advising of a large funeral procession expected today.
Events related to Fuimaono’s funeral are happening across the city throughout the day – from Pt Chevalier to Grey Lynn and parts of South Auckland, police told the Herald.
A family service for Fuimaono was held at St Joseph’s last night.
A service sheet showed photos of him as a young boy, a young man and later as a father with young children.
His coffin included the Samoan flag painted on the side of it.
Fuimaono, of Westmere, was arrested on Saturday evening and later died in Auckland City Hospital.
Police said they were providing support for his family.
A critical investigation was also under way to establish the circumstances surrounding Fuimaono’s death.
The matter has also been reported to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
WorkSafe NZ and the Coroner have been notified of the death as well.
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