Supporters chant 'free Tamaki' as Destiny Church leader pleads not guilty

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Nov 2021, 7:21AM
(Photo / Supplied)
(Photo / Supplied)

Supporters chant 'free Tamaki' as Destiny Church leader pleads not guilty

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Nov 2021, 7:21AM

Supporters of Brian Tamaki have gathered outside the Auckland Prison Remand Centre in Mt Eden, as the Destiny Church leader faces fresh charges in relation to the anti-lockdown protest in Auckland at the weekend. 

Police earlier confirmed they have taken enforcement action against two people - Brian and Hannah Tamaki - after a gathering was held on Saturday in breach of Auckland's alert level restrictions. 

Brian Tamaki, 63, had been charged with failing to comply with Order (Covid-19) under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act and would also be appearing for breach of his bail conditions. 

Hannah, 60, had also been charged with two counts of failing to comply with the order. 

Brian Tamaki is appearing via an audiovisual link, while Hannah would be released on bail to appear in court at a later stage, police said. 

Through his lawyer, Tamaki has pleaded not guilty to both new charges. 

Ahead of Tamaki's appearance, a crowd of supporters gathered at the police station with an MC telling them he believes Tamaki will be released from police custody. 

Eyewitnesses described the mood as convivial, with music blaring from speakers, supporters chanting "free Tamaki" and neighbours on their decks watching the crowd, who have been here for around three hours. 

Supporters were earlier singing waiata and sitting under sun umbrellas. A small group of police officers are guarding the entrance to the prison. 

While police did not name the Tamakis, the couple were told to attend Auckland Central police station earlier today. 

Acting Auckland City district commander Superintendent Shanan Gray said police could not rule out further arrests in relation to the protest. 

The Destiny founder was swamped by supporters cheering and applauding him as he arrived with his wife Hannah at the central Auckland police station. Photo / Dean Purcell

The Destiny founder was swamped by supporters cheering and applauding him as he arrived with his wife Hannah at the central Auckland police station. (Photo / Dean Purcell)

'I have done nothing wrong' Tamaki tells supporters 

The couple had claimed they had not broken the law, saying they are innocent of any wrongdoing attending the protest. 

They were met with rapturous applause when they reported to the Auckland Central Police Station today. 

"I am basically innocent. I have done nothing wrong," Tamaki said before entering the complex. 

He maintained he did not incite anyone to break the law at the rally, keeping all the Covid requirements. 

Tamaki told the crowd of up to 100 supporters he had the right to protest and had stuck to his bubble. 

Most people at the gathering at Auckland's Domain were complying with the Covid restrictions, he said, and had gone out of their way to stick to restrictions. He remained puzzled over why he has been targeted by police. 

"I think this is a national issue today. It's a very important issue to all New Zealanders - the right to gather," he said. 

He said the Government's new Covid-19 framework, the traffic light system, was the beginning of segregation and was going to discriminate against those who made a choice. 

Tamaki predicted 2023 was going to be very dark days for this country and the freedom to protest and the freedom of speech was under assault right now. 

"It's cost everything we have to stand for the freedom and rights of all New Zealanders. I believe that this is a great example about whether we're going to go forward and fight for our freedoms or roll over for a Government that does not care for its people," Tamaki said. 
 The Destiny founder was swamped by supporters cheering and applauding him as he arrived with his wife Hannah at the central Auckland police station. (Photo / Dean Purcell) 

He said people had misunderstood "why we're doing this". 

He was not a criminal and his arrests were a waste of taxpayers' money.  
As he walked into the police station alongside his wife the Ka Mate haka was performed. 

Earlier Hannah Tamaki confirmed she had been called in to speak with police with Brian. 

On a livestream video this morning, she thanked supporters, including those who are praying for them. 

Some of the 100-odd supporters outside the police station held placards saying "Free to speak" near the entrance of the building, but most stood on the curbside waiting for the Tamakis. Some were chanting, with one man leading the crowd through a megaphone, with shouts of "freedom" ringing out. 

About half the crowd, which ranged from young children to the elderly, were wearing masks at today's gathering. 

A small group of masked police officers were at the entrance of the station while other officers wandered through the crowd. 

The Destiny Church leader was expected to address the crowd at 10am before he went into the station. 

In a post to social media ahead of their appointment, the couple had been told by their lawyer that the police wanted to speak to both of them and they were on their way to Auckland Central police station. 

"I don't know why they want me to go with him, but we are both going," Hannah Tamaki said. 

"Have an awesome day, enjoy the freedom that you presently have because that's important." 

She finished off reminding Facebook followers that they were standing for the rights of all New Zealanders. 

Last night the couple's nephew, Ethan Tamaki, took to Facebook to call on supporters to show up outside the station. 

"For those concerned, Brian and Hannah Tamaki have been called into Auckland Central Police station tomorrow morning," he wrote last night. 

"This is in regards to the recent exercising of our basic human rights across the nation with tens of thousands of people. 

"If you so choose, go gather outside." 

The post was reposted by Brian Tamaki late last night. 

Police said last night inquiries are continuing after the weekend protest. 

"We are not in a position to comment further at this time," a spokesman said. 

Up to 2000 people turned out to the Auckland Domain on Saturday in protest against the current Covid lockdown measures. 

Brian Tamaki took to the stage at one point, saying he was standing on the right to protest. 

He referred to New Zealand as "Jacindaland" before denouncing Covid restrictions and vaccine mandates. 

"I am not a citizen of Jacinda's New Zealand. I refuse to be a part of the New Zealand she is creating. 

"I don't really want to be in the news. I'm tired of it after 30 years ... I hate it," he said. 

Tamaki has already appeared in court twice since early October. The first appearance was on charges for organising a rally on October 2, allegedly in breach of Covid restrictions - he has pleaded not guilty. 

He was ordered to stay away from future protests but was in court again on October 20 for fronting up at the second Domain protest on October 16, allegedly breaching bail. 

He was allowed to remain free on bail on several conditions, including that he not "organise or attend any protests in breach of any Covid-19 level requirement", and that he not "use the internet for the purpose of organising, attending or encouraging non-compliance with the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020". 

'I'd rather live in dangerous freedom' - Brian Tamaki 

Before announcing Tamaki to the stage, his wife Hannah said with a laugh they have been in contact with their lawyer Ron Mansfield QC every day concerning their legal issues stemming from the Domain protests. 

Mansfield told the Weekend Herald he expected Tamaki was compliant with his bail conditions around the Covid-19 Public Health Act. 

"The conditions are not intended to prevent him taking part in a lawful protest. Whether others agree with the protest or not - a protest is not an unlawful activity," he said. 

"The conditions are to prevent him from being or encouraging non-compliance with Covid requirements. I need to say he has denied ever doing that." 

Mansfield conceded "obviously I am not there", but said Tamaki had instructed him that he had not sought to be "defiant as some have claimed or to breach the law, let alone his bail conditions". 

"He [Tamaki] has just sought to express his views on government policy, like many have, whether they are for or against [them]." 

After the protest, Hannah Tamaki told Facebook fans she had encouraged her husband to speak at the protest. 

"I will and have always encouraged him to do things for people. All people matter, whether they share our faith or not," she said. 

"As Brian keeps quoting: 'I'd rather live in dangerous freedom than live in peaceful slavery'."