Tangling with the Tamakis

Brian and Hannah Tamaki have visited several parts of the country since leaving Auckland. Photos:...
Brian and Hannah Tamaki. Photos: RNZ
Brian and Hannah Tamaki have taken quite the road trip this week.

The Destiny Church leaders roared out Auckland within hours of their cellphones blaring out with the Ministry of Health Covid-19 alert level change warning, to begin either an "utterly irresponsible" series of visits to their churches or to offer much-needed pastoral support to their flock, depending on to whom you listen.

After much wandering, thankfully for them not in the wilderness for 40 years, they have now fetched up in Invercargill, where they are scheduled to preach their gospel tomorrow.

En route, the couple have kept up a lively social media presence, mostly to accuse the media of persecuting them.

Do they have a point? To a small degree.

They are correct to say that, of the several thousand people who left Auckland as Sunday morning’s deadline neared, they were singled out.

However, this was because the media was reporting on the wider issue of Covid flight, over and above non-Aucklanders legitimately returning home.

The Tamakis self-publicised the fact that they had left Auckland, and while their use of the word "escape" to explain their trip may have been taken rather more literally than they anticipated, they left themselves wide open for the accusation they were flouting Covid-19 regulations to be made.

At that point, the couple would have been wise to have made their national "tour" comprise just a single stop and fade out of view, but these Christian soldiers instead marched onwards into the south.

There may well be souls here requiring salvation, but this was also at one time the part of New Zealand most sorely afflicted by Covid-19 and the arrival of the Tamakis would not be good news had the virus come with them.

The church has labelled the intense scrutiny of the Tamakis as racist, a baseless allegation which will not succeed in diverting attention away from their actions.

It is their precipitate departure from Auckland as the city went back in to Alert Level 3, and wisdom or otherwise of that decision, which is in question.

Race is not the issue; it is about reasonable decision making.

"Is it appropriate for the media to continue to label Destiny Church members with titles such as ‘poor’, ‘uneducated’, ‘simple-minded’, as that is surely the propaganda of elitism?", the church asked in a press statement earlier this week.

There is no evidence the media has done any such thing, but it has rigorously and rightly asked if people in a leadership role — such as the Tamakis — should be leaving Auckland at the time that they did.

There is no disagreement with Destiny’s statement that it has improved the lives of thousands of its members, or that the Tamakis have done many good deeds through their ministry.

What is up for debate is whether Bishop Tamaki’s statement that he would be more productive out in the country rather than gardening in Auckland is acceptable ... especially if it turned out that he or one of his entourage had Covid-19.

Rather than following the biblical injunction to avoid foolish controversies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law for they are unprofitable and worthless, Mrs Tamaki used her pulpit again on Thursday to proclaim that she was not going to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

While that is an objectively foolish position, it is entirely within her rights, and equally she is absolutely entitled to make that view known to her audience.

To her credit, she exhorted her social media followers to make their own choice in the matter. However, as a public figure making a public statement, she should again expect the prudence of that position, and her advocacy of it, to be newsworthy, just as the positions of other political leaders on vaccination are relevant as the Covid-19 vaccine begins to be rolled out.

Hence, she and her husband can expect the content of their sermons in Invercargill tomorrow to be much more closely examined than they might have expected.

The Tamakis are not being persecuted for righteousness' sake. They are simply being asked legitimate questions whether their actions demonstrate love for their neighbour in a time of global pandemic.

Nor is this an issue of a church being dictated to by the state. It is about personal responsibility in a time of crisis.

Ultimately, it will be their maker who will hold the Tamakis to account, but while on this earth, the media and others are well within their rights to question the couple about their actions.

Comments

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Surprising that you should choose to publish an editorial about charlatans giving them even more publicity which is what they crave.
How many votes did Hannah receive in the last election?

They left before being couped up in their house for a week. The roads out of Auckland were bumper to bumper from late evening to 6am when the borders closed-literally 10s of thousands left. If you could, would you have also left for freedom? The comments of the Southland Mayor re the Tamaki's are sad. One would expect high spending tourists from Auckland would be welcomed, for an area hurting because the loss of tourists. Maybe the mayor has a touch of anti- Christian/certain race/wealth/Auckland? or something else. Be a mayor, not a complainer- I suspect if it was John Key or Phil Goff on the hunting trip the mayor's response would have been different. (ps. I am not a member of the Destiny Church)

That's a relief. For a moment, you seemed to suggest fundamentalism is mainstream Christianity.

I wonder how much money the Tamaki's managed to scrounge out of their flock on this tour? Perhaps it wasn't escaping Covid. Perhaps they just desperately wanted to upgrade one of their cars?

It is not just to do with who they are. The fact that they "escaped" a covid lockdown and are travelling the country speaking with "crowds" of people that is the issue. It would also appear that it is not just the two of them. They appear to have an entourage of hangers on or are they "bodyguards".

Mrs. Tamaki said she wouldn't be vaccinated and it was her choice. I never had you down as pro-choice Hannah!

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