Mongrel Mob, Man Up: How Toko Kopu turned his life around from feared bikie to ...

A former chieftain of New Zealand's most feared gang has revealed its inner workings, including 'mega bucks' drug deals, how members barked at each other like dogs and cried out the Nazi slogan 'sieg heil'. 

Toko Kopu, 57, was a head honcho in the country's notorious Mongrel Mob for several years. In an exclusive interview, Kopu revealed how he climbed the ranks of the underworld group. 

He joined the gang as an impressionable 15-year-old - abused by his father, who even beat him over the head with a hammer - and rose to become president of an influential Mob chapter.

But in recent years the one-time bank robber and cop basher has turned his heavily-tattooed back on the gang for a better, more peaceful life. 

'I used to bark in my sleep,' he said, growling at a Daily Mail Australia reporter like a canine.

'Heel dog, heel!' his sleepy wife would say.

Former Mongrel Mob bigwig: Toko Kopu, 57, has seen it all over his criminal career - but after decades spent behind bars he is now reformed and is calling on wannabe bikies to 'man up'

Former Mongrel Mob bigwig: Toko Kopu, 57, has seen it all over his criminal career - but after decades spent behind bars he is now reformed and is calling on wannabe bikies to 'man up'

The Mob (stock photo) was founded in New Zealand in the 1960s, purportedly after a magistrate slammed a group of young men as 'mongrels' and they took it as a badge of honour

The Mob (stock photo) was founded in New Zealand in the 1960s, purportedly after a magistrate slammed a group of young men as 'mongrels' and they took it as a badge of honour

A life story written in ink: Kopu's back (above) features Mongrel Mob's signature bulldog, while his front features his wife Freda's first name

A life story written in ink: Kopu's back (above) features Mongrel Mob's signature bulldog, while his front features his wife Freda's first name

The Mongrel Mob was formed in the 1960s, about a decade before Kopu signed up as a prospect. 

The group's name was purportedly born from the remarks of an angry magistrate, who purportedly branded a rebellious group of young men 'mongrels' in court. 

But they apparently took it as a badge of honour. And over the years, the street gang has evolved into a much-feared unit infamous for its violent clashes with rival operations, including local group Black Power and the Hells Angels, and its organised crime activities. 

'The mission (of the gang) is to be the meanest mongrel, or dog,' Kopu said. 

Pointing to the tattoo on his back, he said: 'We're representing a bulldog, we bark! 

'Whenever we had a meeting there was all that barking going on. 

'It was who had the best bark, and the best bite, ruled the nest.' 

Kopu himself ruled the roost at one point. 

But after spending much of his life behind bars, in recent years Kopu has transformed himself from a gang boss to a Bible worshipping campaigner.

Kopu is on a new mission - to get young men to 'man up' and become better fathers, brothers and sons. 

He claimed men like himself only turn to crime and bikie groups because they had absent fathers or were victims of abuse. 

Kopu's own father beat him from age eight. '(It all goes back) to my dad, that's where the root of the problem started, no doubt,' he said. 

He recalled how his dad smacked his 12-year-old self over the head with a hammer for back-chatting him.

'Once I answered back, BOOM,' he said. 'I could see blood dropping on the ground.'

Kopu followed his older brother into the mob in 1976, finding a sense of brotherhood and family in the gang. 

'It was (all about) replacing my family … It was replacing my father,'

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