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On the streets of south Auckland, Pasifika youth equipped with plastic siren cones have created a new sound – one that stormed TikTok, and took over a moment in pop music. Sometimes disparaged or dismissed, they say their work with sirens is more than just a sound or a hobby. It’s also about community, creativity and respite from struggle.

These are the Siren Kings – a street subculture devoted to the volume and clarity of music, channelled through the unusual vector of emergency-evacuation sirens.

Devotees carefully pull apart radios and Bluetooth speakers, wiring them into industrial speakers, loudhailers and sirens, and create potent, portable arenas of sound. Their sirens are typically taped on to bikes, sometimes as many as 10 wired to the handlebars. The scene orbits around battles: fighting it out through several carefully judged rounds for the loudest, clearest sound.

Among the wider public, their excursions and battles sometimes prompt irritation, anger, or complaints to noise control and police. But the siren kings say the scene is also a space to cultivate community and an escape from negativity and prejudice.

“A lot of people criticise it,” says Mischief.C*, a teenage siren competitor from Mangere, who also produces his own music as Mizgf.C. “They think it’s something that’s useless, something that’s just annoying. But they’re not in our shoes. They don’t know our struggles or what we go through.”

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