Brian Raymond Tamaki (born 2 February 1958) heads Destiny Church, a Pentecostal Christian organisation in New Zealand which advocates strict adherence to fundamentalist biblical morality, and is notable for its position against homosexuality, its patriarchal views and for its calls for a return to biblical conservative family values and morals.
In his autobiography Bishop Brian Tamaki: More than meets the eye, Tamaki describes his early life:
Born in Te Awamutu in the Waikato region as the eldest in a family of five, Tamaki spent his childhood years on the family farm, called "Te Manuka", in the rural area of Te Kopua. His devoutly religious mother took her sons to the Te Awamutu Methodist Church on Sundays. Tamaki describes his father as an alcoholic who showed no interest in fatherhood. During Tamaki's childhood the family moved from the farm to Te Awamutu and then on to Tokoroa in 1970. While in Tokoroa Tamaki became interested in rugby union and a little later came to enjoy pig-hunting and participating in a rock-band playing the pub circuit. Two of Tamaki's brothers, Doug and Mike, are well-known tourism venture operators in Rotorua.
Tamaki dropped out of secondary school at fifteen, before completing the fourth form and took a labour job in the forestry industry. In his teens he impregnated Hannah Lee and the unwed couple moved to Te Awamutu, where Tamaki worked on a dairy farm owned by his uncle and aunt. Tamaki and Lee had their first child, Jasmine, in December 1978. Later at 21, Tamaki joined the Ngaruawahia Apostolic Church. He lost his farm job and he and Lee returned to Tokoroa, where he attended the Tokoroa Apostolic Church. Tamaki became heavily involved with the church after pastor Manuel Renata baptised him in December 1979. Since Tamaki and his partner had not married, Renata would not allow him to carry out all the functions of the church. Tamaki and Lee then married at the Tokoroa Presbyterian Church on 22 March 1980. Fourteen months later they had their second child, a girl named Jamie.
In 1982 the Tamakis attended the Apostolic Church's Te Nikau Bible College in Paraparaumu, and also had their third child, Samuel. Tamaki became an ordained elder, and then (in September 1984) a pastor in the Tokoroa Apostolic Church. Tamaki went on to establish the Rosetown Community Church in Te Awamutu, the Lake City Church in Rotorua, City Church and then Destiny Church in Auckland.
Church and politics
In 2003 several members of the Destiny Church started the Destiny New Zealand political party, led by Richard Lewis. The party ran candidates in most electorates in the 2005 general election, but garnered less than 1 percent of the vote – well short of the 5 percent threshold required to enter Parliament without winning an electorate seat.
Destiny New Zealand was promoted by a nationwide tour and DVD labelled "A Nation Under Siege". Tamaki features in the DVD and accompanied the tour. The DVD shows Tamaki decrying what he sees as four problems with New Zealand society: "a Government gone evil, a radical homosexual agenda, the media: a modern day witchcraft" and "the retreat of religion in New Zealand".
In 2004, Tamaki predicted the Destiny Church would be "ruling the nation" before its tenth anniversary in 2008.
Destiny Church claimed a close relationship with New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, USA, the church of Bishop Eddie Long, until at least September 2010. In his autobiography Tamaki wrote a chapter titled "Spiritual Father – a long time coming", in which he described meeting "my spiritual father", Eddie Long, in 2002. In October 2003, Long travelled to New Zealand after Tamaki invited him to address Destiny Church members. Tamaki wrote, "... the ease of our connection and the confirmation of a date was entirely in line with Kingdom principle – when God speaks, do it". Long travelled to New Zealand again subsequently and Tamaki usually met him each year at church conferences.
In the media
At the Nelson meeting of the Destiny New Zealand "A Nation Under Siege" tour, Tamaki attacked the media, the government, the Green Party and Grey Power (a lobby group for the elderly), referring to the Greens as "pagans", Grey Power as "self centred" and the media as "modern day witchcraft".
In 2004 the Sunday Star Times reported that Mr Tamaki "hijacked" $450,000 from elderly couple Barry and Marian Wilson. The Wilsons lent the money, which they had received from the sale of nautical clothing label Line7 in the mid-'90s, on the understanding that it was to be used to purchase a block of land in Rotorua for the construction of a church. It was reported that after almost 10 years and countless attempts to contact Mr Tamaki and his wife Hannah, the Wilsons had given up hope of ever recovering the full amount. The Sunday Star-Times asked Mr Tamaki for a response to a series of questions regarding the loan, but he declined to respond.
In July 2005 Tamaki had directed "highly offensive abuse" at Newstalk ZB host Mike Yardley while off-air during an interview on 20 July. In his autobiography Tamaki denies that the abuse happened.
In May 2006 a poll ranked Tamaki the least-trusted of 75 prominent New Zealanders. In June 2006 Tamaki expressed opposition to Sue Bradford's private members Child Discipline Bill, which removed the legal defence of "reasonable force" for prosecutions of parents who have assaulted their children.
In May 2007 the Reader's Digest "Most Trusted People"' poll again ranked Tamaki as New Zealand's least trusted of 75 prominent persons, followed by Ahmed Zaoui and Don Brash. He was again ranked least-trusted in 2012 in a list of 100, this time followed by Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom.
In July 2008 TV3 broadcast "Inside New Zealand:The Life of Brian", a documentary by reporter Ross Jennings. Jennings claimed to "go inside the head of the Destiny Church’s home, inside his boat, inside his church and yes, even inside his flashy wardrobe."
In a Close-Up TV interview on the subject Tamaki denied that his church is a cult claiming that "if we are a cult then the Catholics, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Baptists, and the Pentecostals are all cults as well. Because we believe – we have the same actual orthodox tenets of belief."
Richard Lewis, spokesperson for Destiny, earlier in the same interview deflected the criticism by re-defining the term in a pejorative sense saying "Well a cult is umm some exclusive community out in the backdrops of nowhere, but Destiny is the opposite of that; we’re in the middle of Mt Wellington, our doors are always open, as Bishop says; we broadcast live, we’re an open book".
Views on sexuality and marriage
Radio Pacific host John Banks aired an interview with Tamaki that attacked a New Zealand AIDS Foundation's takatāpui (Māori for LGBT-person) HIV-prevention project, in which Tamaki referred to traditional Māori pre-colonial intolerance for male homosexuality, painting a picture of a society which, he claimed, exterminated gay and lesbian people. However, many Māori academic authorities question the basis for this claim.
The broadcasting of Tamaki's preaching against homosexuality on Television New Zealand has led to numerous complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. Television New Zealand pulled the original opening episode of his series Higher Ground, because it "had language and phrases that did not meet industry standards of accuracy, fairness and balance".
On 16 November 2016, Brian Tamaki drew controversy when he made statements during a sermon that the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes were divine retribution for sinful behavior including murder and homosexuality. These statements preceded the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake by a few hours. Tamaki's comments were condemned by leading New Zealand public figures including the Mayor of Christchurch Bob Parker, Prime Minister John Key, and the Anglican bishop of Dunedin, Kelvin Wright. One Auckland-based critic Aaron Smithson also organized a Change.org petition calling on Prime Minister Key to revoke Destiny Church's tax-free status. On 17 November, Tamaki responded by accusing the media of bias and sensationalizing his statements.
Views on women in politics
Tamaki regards the perceived lack of male leadership in New Zealand, including the leadership over one's family, as "the work of the devil". He claims that Parliament reflects this alleged lack of male leadership. In his autobiography he defends his attitude towards women by pointing to the role of his wife Pastor Hannah Tamaki in the Destiny Church organisation, and also says "God is very specific about the role and function of men".
Trans woman MP Georgina Beyer confronted Tamaki at the "Enough is Enough" protest in Wellington in August 2004, charging "Your hatred is totally intolerable". Beyer also compared Tamaki to despots like Robert Mugabe in a 3 News interview.
- A Nation under Siege: A social disaster has hit our nation (2005) Directed by J Cardno. Rated M. DVD format.
- Tamaki, Brian (2006). Bishop Brian Tamaki: More than meets the eye. Auckland: Tamaki Publications, Destiny Churches New Zealand. ISBN 0-473-11242-6
- Tamaki, Brian (2006). Bishop Brian Tamaki: More than meets the eye. Auckland: Tamaki Publications, Destiny Churches New Zealand. ISBN 0-473-11242-6.
- "Tamaki bros to expand business". The Daily Post. 25 October 2007.
- Mulu, Mere (2006-10-15). "Bishop Brian - saved from hopelessness". Sunday News. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
- "State religion for further debate - National - NZ Herald News". The New Zealand Herald. 20 February 2007.
- Crewdson, Patrick (2005-06-19). "Bishop fulfils his destiny". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2007-06-01.
- Grimshaw, Mike (January 2006). "Religion, terror and the end of the postmodern: Rethinking the responses". International Journal of Baudrillard Studies 3 (1)
- New Zealand Ministry of Justice, Chief Electoral Office. "Official Count Results -- Overall Status". NZ Govt. Archived from the original on 2007-04-29. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
- "Is Destiny destined to rule?". Television New Zealand. 3 October 2004. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
- "Our church". Auckland: Destiny Church. 2010. Archived from the original on 20 August 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
The church corporate relates closely with New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta USA, which is the home of Bishop Eddie L. Long, spiritual father to Bishop Tamaki.
- Tapaleao, Vaimoana (24 September 2010). "Tamaki link to US sex-case bishop". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- Ihaka, James (25 September 2010). "Sex claim against mate stuns Bishop Tamaki". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- "Tamaki attacks self-centred grey power and greenies". The Nelson Mail. 2005-07-19.
- Sunday Star Times (NZ)/29 August 2004
- Crewdson, Patrick (2005-07-31). "Radio host meets his Destiny". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
- "Sir Ed tops NZ's most trusted, again". TVNZ ONE News. 2006-05-26. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
- Home Page - Challenge Publishing Society Ltd
- Family Values in Jeopardy - Mass Gathering - 2 May 2007 - Parliament Grounds - Wellington Archived 21 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Reader's Digest New Zealand: Who do you trust now, New Zealand?". Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 2012-09-20.
- Inside New Zealand: The Life of Brian, TV3, Thursday 17 July 2008 21:30. retrieved 2009-06-24
- Brian Tamaki - Life of Brian documentary, programme overview by Bradley Walker, newzealandfilmtv.co.nz, 7 July 2008.retrieved 2009-06-24
- , Close-Up Interview TVNZ, Video.
- Anon (2006-03-08). "Destiny's hidden gay warriors". GayNZ.com. Retrieved 2008-07-19.
- "Decision No: 2003-141-158". Broadcasting Standards Authority. 2003-09-15. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
- Gamble, Warren (2000-03-07). "Breach of standards stifled minister's opening sermon". New Zealand Herald.
- "Watch: Brian Tamaki tells followers, 'the weight of human sin' caused the Christchurch earthquake - hours before Kaikoura". 1 News. 16 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
- Strongman, Susan (17 November 2016). "Bishop Brian Tamaki blames gays, murderers and sinners for earthquakes". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
- "Sir Bob Parker demands 'off beam' Brian Tamaki apologise to Christchurch, Kaikoura for blaming quake on sins". 1 News. 16 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
- Strongman, Susan (17 November 2016). "Shock over Destiny leader Brian Tamaki's homophobic remarks". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
- McNeilly, Hamish (17 November 2016). "Bishop of Dunedin on Brian Tamaki: 'He's telling porkies'". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
- Akoorie, Natalie (17 November 2016). "Petition to stop Destiny Church having tax-free status gaining support". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
- "Not just gays to blame for quake, says Brian Tamaki, but all 'extra-sexual behaviour'". New Zealand Herald. 17 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
- "Flock to Bishop - Let us pay". TV3 News. 2006-03-09. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
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