Yet another protest is planned in Wellington tomorrow, with Brian Tamaki and Destiny Church calling for New Zealand to support Israel in the ongoing conflict with Hamas.
Tamaki, the leader of Destiny Church, will hold a protest on the lawns of Parliament from 12.30pm Thursday, calling for the Government to stand with Israel following the October 7 attack by Palestine militant group Hamas.
Following Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel, in which at least 1200 people were killed, Israel’s allies have defended the country’s right to protect itself. But now into the third month of the war, there are growing differences over how Israel should conduct its fight.
More than 11,070 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and minors, have been killed since the war began, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza, which does not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths. About 2700 people have been reported missing and are thought to be possibly trapped or dead under the rubble.
Tamaki plans to deliver a “declaration” to Parliament about the Israel/Palestine conflict - but other groups are already organising counter-protests.
The crowd from Brian Tamaki's last protest at Parliament in August. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Serah Allison from Pōneke Anti-Fascist Coalition told the Herald the group will hold a counter-protest outside the Supreme Court on the same day to inform people about the plight of the Palestinian people.
It follows a pro-Palestine rally which was held yesterday in Wellington, after another nationwide protest organised by Te Pāti Māori, which was in response to the Act Party’s bid to redefine Treaty principles, the planned scrapping of the Māori Health Authority, Oranga Tamariki policies, and the repealing of smokefree laws.
National Māori Action Day protesters at Parliament, Wellington, 05 December, 2023. New Zealand Herald photograph by Mark Mitchell
The protest also follows an incident on Monday where several schools in Wellington were locked down after the discovery of suspicious packages outside the Israeli and United States embassies in Wellington.
A police spokesperson confirmed they were alerted to the first package outside the US Embassy on Fitzherbert Tce at 1.40pm and a second outside the Israeli Embassy on Brandon St at 1.50pm. Stuff has reported it understands a fake baby covered in blood was left outside the embassy.
A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy could not confirm any details of what the package was.
A police officer stands at a cordon on Brandon Street after the suspicious packages were discovered. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Yesterday’s Palestine protest, organised by Justice for Palestine, was originally going to be held on the same day as Tamaki’s, but when he announced he would be protesting at the same time on the same day, a decision was made to move it to yesterday due to safety concerns.
Samira Zaiton, the co-convenor of Justice for Palestine, told the Herald the group did not move their protest out of fear.
“Tamaki believes he is ‘winning’ through fear in the postponement of our rally. We are not scared, we are strategic. The safety of our whānau who are joining in this protest is at the forefront. In this context, this is especially so for our Muslim, Arab and Palestinian whānau in the face of Islamaphobia and anti-Arab racism.”
“Brian Tamaki, with his amoral and harmful actions, does not deserve our time or energy. Palestine does. We will continue to fight for a just and lasting peace.”
Allison told the Herald Pōneke Anti-Fascist Coalition believes Tamaki is intentionally centring himself at the heart of the protests to take the spotlight from Palestine.
“Brian Tamaki and Destiny Church have, we think, quite intentionally placed himself trying to take the spotlight off these peaceful Palestinian rallies by organising an hour earlier than Palestine rally was going to and essentially forcing them out of their organising.”
She told the Herald the group will have speeches and music to counter Tamaki’s protest, and that they are advocating first for a ceasefire and then for a solution whereby the land is shared between the Palestinian people and Israel.
“To be really, really clear these rallies don’t tolerate xenophobia and they don’t tolerate anti-semitism.”
What you need to know
Key details for tomorrow’s protest action:
- When is it happening: 12.30pm
- Where is it happening: Parliament lawn
- Who is gathering: Brian Tamaki and supporters including Destiny’s Church
- Why are they there: To show support for Israel, and to call on MPs in Parliament to do the same.
- Where is the counter-protest: Poneke Anti-Fascist Coalition will be outside the Supreme Court on Lambton Quay from 12.30pm
Vita Molyneux is a Wellington-based journalist who covers breaking news and stories from the capital. She has been a journalist since 2018 and joined the Herald in 2021.
Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you