Destiny Church's Brian Tamaki has criticised the decision by the Government to continue the ban on large gatherings and has vowed to hold a service at his South Auckland base this Sunday.
In a statement to media, Tamaki slammed the decision to restrict gathering to a maximum of 10 people as "Nanny-State" and said that our politicians were acting as "overly controlling parents".
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that gatherings would be limited to 10 people, even for weddings or funerals. That 10-person limit will be reviewed in two weeks.
She said a 10-person limit was given "hard consideration" in light of the difficulties people have had with funerals and tangi, but it was a balanced decision, taking safety into account.
That means that most church services still cannot go ahead.
In the statement, Tamaki described the decision as a breach of rights.
"A church can act as responsibly as a cinema when it comes to health precautions and physical distancing," Tamaki said.
"Our rights as churches under the New Zealand Bill of Rights are being violated, particularly section 15 regarding the freedom to manifest religion or belief in worship, observance practise and teaching either publicly or privately.
"In the Bill of Rights the Government must act fairly when making decisions about religious groups and it isn't doing so in allowing businesses to have more than 10 people on their premises but not churches," he added.
"This will be no surprise to this government. They know they are violating our rights."
Tamaki claimed in his statement that the Government was going against the advice of Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
"We know that on several occasions now, Cabinet have disregarded Bloomfield's advice, and in their infinite, all-knowing, wisdom, made their own Nanny-State decisions.
"New Zealand seems to have overly controlling parents as politicians, compared to other countries."
Tamaki vowed to hold a Destiny service this Sunday, saying he would invite all of his congregation to be tested beforehand.
He also urged other churches to join him, saying: "I invite all churches in New Zealand to act according to your rights [see the NZ Bill of Rights] and to not allow this government to treat us as non-essential or as an after thought at the bottom of the heap.
"Let's stand up together for our freedoms!"