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.