Protest against Tamakis ends in celebration

What started as a protest against a visit to Dunedin by controversial political party leader Hannah Tamaki ended up a celebration after it turned out she had already left the city.

About 60 protesters met close to Fable Dunedin, a five-star hotel in Princes St, where it was believed Mrs Tamaki and her husband Destiny Church founder Brian Tamaki were staying.

The protesters held up glasses of tomato juice in solidarity with activist Eli Rubashkyn, who has been charged with assault for dousing controversial British speaker Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, with tomato juice at her Auckland rally.

Protester Al, who did not want to give his last name, said the Tamakis spread a message of hate towards the trans community and the protest was about saying they were unwelcome in Dunedin.

When protesters found out the Tamakis had already left the city, they turned the protest into more of a celebration.

Protesters gather to send a message in Princes St yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Protesters gather to send a message in Princes St yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
At one stage during the protest a man in a car yelled expletives at those gathered, and Al said this was a reflection of where society was at when it came to welcoming diversity.

"People are scared of things they don’t understand. And a lot of people, particularly men, tend to express their fear through anger."

He said it was pleasing four Dunedin city councillors — deputy mayor Sophie Barker, Jim O’Malley, Marie Laufiso and Steve Walker — were among those who turned up.

Otago regional councillor Elliot Weir also attended.

The protesters announced the launch of a crowd-funding project to support healthcare for the trans community.

The visit by the Tamakis came after several Dunedin city councillors were contacted by Mark Terrill, an associate of Mrs Tamaki, who said the Vision NZ political party founder was in Otago this week and asked if they would meet her.

Nearly all councillors who had been contacted about a proposed meeting told the Otago Daily Times they had turned it down.

But Cr Lee Vandervis refused to say if he had been approached, or if he would take up the offer.