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An evening with NZ’s best known gang member

Monday 20 June 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Local, National


An evening with NZ’s best known gang member
Denis O’Reilly. SUPPLIED/22061920

Cook Islanders will get a chance to hear and spend an evening with one of New Zealand’s most colourful characters later this month.

Despite his South Island Irish Catholic whakapapa, Denis O’Reilly, is a fully patched member of the Black Power gang, and for all the right reasons, is arguably New Zealand’s best known gang member.

In addition to those “labels” O’Reilly is also an academic, a former senior civil servant, an advocate for social change and has spent much of his life working across the board with gangs encouraging their members away from anti-social behaviours.

In an unlikely partnership, O’Reilly and conservative prime minister Sir Robert Muldoon, teamed up to develop and implement work schemes for gangs during Muldoon’s time in office. The aim of the highly successful schemes, was to provide gang members and their families with a legitimate income rather than living off the proceeds of crime.  

O’Reilly will be guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Rarotonga’s changeover dinner where local identity Peter French will be installed as Rotary president for the next twelve months. He takes over from current president Stephen Lyon.

The dinner will be held at the Aotearoa Centre in Maraerenga, and will be a joint fundraiser for Rotary and the Aotearoa Society.

Well known local chef Tony Bullivant will be catering and as a tilt to Denis O’Reilly’s background, the meal will be a celebrity Irish Stew with a touch of Aotearoa!

Tupapa resident Derek Fox, will be conducting an “on the couch” question and answer session with O’Reilly.

Derek reckons he’s known O’Reilly for almost a century.

“He’s a really good and decent bloke with so much knowledge and good sense to share. And I’m really looking forward  to the irish stew that Tony’s knocking up, along with the Maori fried bread that’s accompanying it. I’m also expecting the off tall story!”

Tickets to the fundraising dinner on Wednesday, June 29, cost $80. Contact Peter French, Jaewynn McKay, Mareko Boyd or drop into the Computer Man if you want to purchase any.