Brian Tamaki – the controversial head of Destiny Church – has had his hopes dashed after Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis publicly announced he would not be funding his Man Up programme.
The programme, which runs for 15 weeks, is aimed at helping past offenders integrate back into society, and is funded and run entirely by Destiny Church. According to Tamaki, it has a success rate of 72%. Last year, Tamaki accused the government of illegally attempting to block him and programme volunteers from entering corrections facilities. Tamaki said the government, rather than backing his programme with funding, was actively opposing it – a decision which was harming the inmates the Man Up programme was supposed to help. His protests culminated in a petition presented to Parliament late last year, which called on the government to stop its ‘illegal’ ban on Man Up, and to give the programme funding. Tamaki tweeted that if the government didn’t support his programme, he would be forced to visit prisons with a message which would cause “inmate revolts in prison”.
That petition has finally been answered – and it’s a firm no.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says he will not be funding the programme, and will not be allowing Destiny Church/Man Up volunteers to visit corrections centers. He says Tamaki never filed for a government grant, nor did he follow the correct application process to speak to inmates. Moreover, Davis says there is no independently verified research to support Tamaki’s claims, which is worrying, given his fondness for living an extravagant lifestyle funded by tithings collected in Church. “If they’re going to lie about small stuff, and about being banned from prison and preaching war, why would we open ourselves up for them to go into a prison,” he told The Herald, “I don’t trust [that] any contract that they had – if they were to work in prisons – wouldn’t go into funding an extravagant lifestyle, overseas holidays, cars, jewellery, and Harley Davidsons. I don’t believe the money would go where they say it would go”.
Tamaki responded to Davis with his typical maturity and calm, calling the comments “political gang rape”, and accusing him of being “The Liar”.
Members of Tamaki’s Destiny Church made headlines earlier this month when they demonstrated outside one of the mosques affected by the Christchurch shootings. Demonstrators – who said they found Muslim calls to prayer in the wake of the shootings “disrespectful” – told reporters they were ‘reclaiming’ the country for Christians, by reminding people that “Jesus Christ is the true god”.