Monday, March 28, 2011


The following blog will look at the popular "K" hand sign, with a very innocent beginning. I find it interesting how often we (Kelstonians) used this sign in such a proud, gangster-like demeanour, in a small corner of the western suburbs in Auckland. However, I've seen this same hand sign conducted by young teens in Brisbane, and then even more so on Facebook pictures outside of NZ and Aus! This is fascinating. My fascination lies in the innocence of how this started, and how dispersed it has become. I still do hold a sense of comradeship as a Kelstonian, but more so to my friends that I made at the time, then the system. I chuckle as I wonder whether all these people are Kelston or non-Kelston and are aware of the humble and innocent beginnings of this sign. The picture above has the gentleman in the middle displaying the "K" sign and in fact is the pioneer of it. We grew up together in New Lynn, Auckland, and it all happened in his kitchen while sipping on tea and eating fried potato pieces at his dining table.

There was a time when Auckland suburbia was saturated with the hip-hop culture, MC Hammer, Young MC, NWA and many others who all brought a flavour of music that caught on to the Auckland suburban scene, in my case West Auckland. With the rise of hip-hop, a genre of rap, appropriately labelled, gangster rap was borne because of the content found in the music, thus following a prevalence of teenage - young adult obsession with the LA gang phenomena. There were pseudo LA Bloods and Crip gangs that arose in Auckland, and the mention of the gangs all carried a respected fear. It was cool to say you knew someone from the gang or even more so, if you were in the gang. Actually these gangs may still be in existence, I'm too old to know now. But most of them had a hand sign to show which gang they belonged to.

Well, back to the dining table at Sosh's house. It was a common occurrence for us to walk home from school, throw the school bags down, and shoot the breeze for an hour before continuing on with our afternoon activities. This particular afternoon, Sosh was keen as mustard, to chat about what he had on his mind, as the whole way home he had been briefing me on his conversation with his older cousin who had recently returned from LA. As we sat down he started to talk about all the LA gangs, and then proceeded to show me all the gang hand signs that his cousin had learned in LA. One of them was the one shown in the picture above. A gang I believe to be called the "playboys" and you can see that the hand sign attempts to mimic the popular Playboy bunny trademark. As he was showing me, his hand happened to be right next our Kelston Boys High School baseball cap which displayed a prominent "K" exactly as shown in the picture below (the cap had a blue/red/white colour inversion though). So as you can see, after a little adjustment to the playboy sign, he soon discovered the "K" and he threw it up like a student discovering a simple solution to a complex equation.

I didn't think much of it as we sat there, but the impression it put upon Sosh revealed itself the day after, as we drove to and from school. Sosh was driving and calling out "KELSTOOON!" as we drove past Kelston students, and show the hand-sign as we drove past. Most of the Kelston Boys would cheer back, but I could see their curiosity as to "what the heck is he doing with his hand?" Sosh's brother William (may he RIP) at that time formed a mockery gang called SOK to oppose another gang who called themselves KOS.

SOK was formed after Willy and a few of his friends retaliated to the KOS beating up their cousin who had come down from North Auckland to visit them one holiday. The members of KOS beat her, took her shoes and purse. That was a big mistake, because that same day, when she pulled up on the porch, conveniently Willy, and three of his close friends were there, and Willy being Willy, was not willing to listen to Sosh's or my counsel. After their reaction, they conjured the name SOK - Straight Out of Kelston. They took the hand sign to a whole new level, and before we knew it, it was all around at the next poly festival and became an iconic hand gesture in the western suburbs. And there you have it my friends, the origin of the "K" symbol.

It's interesting how many things we learn and conduct without considering the origins. I suppose some of us have concluded it doesn't matter. But I believe it does. We should make an effort to work out why we do things the way we do, what does it mean, does it have any real significance? Well you make your own conclusions regarding the "K" hand sign, but search deeper, you have behaviors and beliefs that you have carried only because everybody else was doing it, and your dad did it, and his dad did and so on. I secretly found it awkward to display the hand sign, just knowing how it started with fried potatoes and two cups of tea.........

If you're a kelstonian reading this blog. Let us know where you're writing from to show the dispersion of our kind. And if you're game, send a photo of you or with fellow kelston bothers (with your K sign) to I'll post it on this blog.

Willy (note the Kelston necklace), Dave, Sosh, Nato, Josh

Shalom (Peace, to all my Kelston brothers)


p.s: were we all brainwashed in wanting to be all blacks? If you know what they did please enlighten me.


  1. Love your hypothesis on the K' bro. I remember you telling me this story over a plate or two at the all you can eat place at Crown. Awesome got it down packed. Good reading Peace with God...1

  2. Shot brother. I think it was three plates, thanks for the feed again, and for the feedback on the blog.

  3. Awesome read bruh!

  4. Thanks bro where abouts are you writing from?

  5. Awesome read!!! And it's true, I've never thought about the origin of this sign but have to admit that i feel a bit too old to be throwing up this sign anymore lol occasionally when I'm surrounded by old friends and a camera i admit it comes out of hiding lol but throughout the years I've met ppl who do the "k" sign that didn't go to kelston at all lol they knew people from kelston and I guess it grew on them??? lol gotta say though that it may have started with the boys school but it quickly caught on to the 6 other schools in the tiny little suburb! Lol it's a part of all kelstonians I think and it's great to finally know where it all started!!! Btw currently back in Auckland .....for now! Lol

  6. Malo Dave, thank you for the walk down memorylane. I couldnt help but laugh at some of those moments you touched on. Yes, the four that started SOK in 1997, Willie Kailahi (R.I.P), Sefo Lakusa, Sione Lauaki and myself. I will never forget the warning that you and Sosh gave Willie and I before we embarked on that dark journey. The "K" sign was all we needed in order to find some sort of originality (which gave us this sense of excitement at the time), yes thank you sosh, lol! That journey we took led many of us astray, including the next few generations that came after us. When you guys had warned us by the sharing of other peoples experinces, we were either going to learn from theirs or our own. Unfortunatley, we ended up learning from our own... So many of us back then were (and still today) divided by gangs that had originated in the U.S. i.e Crips & Bloods. Whats worse, it has claimed many lives in the streets of Auckland alone. Sad thing is though, the majority would not have had a clue as to how it all began... Something our young generation today should think seriously about. Thank you for sharing this my man. It is both relevant and thought provoking indeed. Hope you and your family are well. Had the privilege of catching up with Sosh a few months ago, be good to catch up with you too sometime soon (or maybe when you come to College here in Avondale, Corranbong, when you finally realise your meant to be here!! Fa'amanuia lava le Atua ia te oe ma lou aiga. Soifua.

    Loma Ulia

  7. Shot Uce! Had an awesome time with you and the boys over. I wish we could shoot the breeze more often. Hopefully we'll catch up again, if not here and then in the new Jerusalem!


  8. I had a drink with some country people last night and in the course of coversation they were aghast to learn I am an (staunch) Old Kelstonian.

    Thanks to this blog, I was able to introduce them to the K sign. Man, I was sooo proud.

    For your info, I went to Kelston 1967 thru 1971 back in the days when its ethnic mix was 98% Palangi. ok, the school photos are diferent these days, but I am still an Old Kelstonian!

  9. Brian,

    Thanks for your Post, and pologies for my late reply. I appreciated your e-mail too. Respect to our older Alumni class. This Kelstonian salutes you!


  10. Tena koe David....young gunns, Kelstonians.....yeah also born and bred Kelstonian since those days Kelston sharks was the local click...and as time moved on they moved on to being HH members.....WOW the kids call it Keli block now hahaha WTF....and brother still in the hood today....those days Te Whau river was the playground, duck brothers at the top of the hill, Baker Boy in the hood, Prospect primary, glen Eden primary Glenora clubrooms, the Barn were all the hangouts for dances.....Ngapuhi Warlords, Kelston Auckland, Glendene Gladiators, Neutral Outsiders were all the small clicks....there has been a couple of reunions for the older generations between 40-50's and time moves on.....nice read anyways....Dave...and yep always a KELSTONIAN ALL DAY...Eparaima Paratene...

    1. kia ora bro, was looking up info on kelston sharks. my old man was a sharky, iv heard stories they started up in the late 60s the po-ching whanau had something to do with it. the maori/samoan whanau. i think they went up agaist the HH in those days. my old man and my uncles ended up moving down to wellington may b around 71/72. dont know much more or about them or how they went to HH. my cuz is in a black power chapterin auckland that may hav links even. chur bro

  11. Tena koe Eparaima,

    Thanks for that info, that sounds real interesting. Any chance you could give us more info at please? I'd love to blog that. I googled it but no results. I wish I could go back in time with a camera to video and photograph those days. I think a lot of the Kelstonians will enjoy it too. KIA ORA!