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A date with Destiny now has a somewhat different meaning after an anti-vaccination protest in Christchurch on Saturday.
According to one of the star turns at the protest, self-styled and self-appointed Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki, it was actually a "family picnic" and did not breach Covid-19 gathering laws.
That is extremely doubtful. The Government’s Orange traffic light level stipulates that any event taking place without vaccine passes, such as this, is limited to 50 people. There were hundreds at Hagley Park, although Mr Tamaki says groups of 50 were kept separate in cordoned-off areas.
By appearing and speaking to the crowd, he may well have broken his bail conditions, which ban him from organising or attending, supporting or talking at any protest which breaches the Covid-19 rules he has pleaded not guilty to flouting himself.
Who, me? says Mr Tamaki innocently, who was ostensibly just in the city to preach at a Destiny Church service earlier on Sunday.
It remains unclear how he got all the way to Christchurch from Auckland and what his vaccination status actually is.
If he flew, or rode his motorcycle down the North Island and went on an interisland ferry, he would need to show his vaccine pass or provide a negative Covid test. There are photographs on social media of him talking on the phone in North Canterbury next to a motorbike.
Presumably, Mr Tamaki provided that negative Covid test, or else walked across Cook Strait. He wouldn’t have a vaccine pass to show. Would he?
The Hagley Park gathering was certainly an interesting example of eating al fresco. There may well have been sandwiches, strawberries and bottles of ginger pop there somewhere, but, in an unusual move for a family picnic, there were also flags, placards and banners. And speeches.
Another breathtaking innovation was introducing a perambulating sub-picnic, with picnickers taking their loved ones and comestibles for a walk down nearby Riccarton Rd.
In light of this, perhaps it is time to update that old favourite, The Teddy Bears’ Picnic:
If you go down to the park today, you’re sure of a big surprise;
If you’ve been having your jabs today, you’d better go in disguise.
For every anti-vaxxer there was, has gathered here for certain because
Today’s the day the Tamakis have their picnic.
Picnic time for the Tamakis,
Friends of the Tamakis are having a lovely time today.
Watch the anti-vax family,
And read the placards that they thrust your way.
See them march and stomp about,
They love to scream and shout
They never have Covid cares.
By 6 o’clock they need to be back home
And watching the TV
To find out if the network news is fair.
Perhaps Mr Tamaki’s most glorious moment was his Donald Trumpesque rave as those gathered began packing up their picnic baskets.
If ever any more proof were needed that he has perhaps lost a bit of perspective, it came with his call to arrest Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins for crimes against New Zealanders.
Many people might instead consider their actions have in fact been protecting New Zealanders and that some others might be in line for arrest before them.
Ironically, Mr Tamaki and his ilk rail against the encroachment on our freedoms in New Zealand, when those freedoms allow him to spout forth such absurdities. In some other countries, which do not enjoy the many liberties we do, it would be tantamount to treason to publicly whip up such opposition.
If it is all some big global conspiracy by world powers to control their people, how come those governments have never been able to agree on pretty much everything else across many centuries?
Isn’t there some old saying about being a sandwich short of a picnic?