Brian Tamaki to be released from prison 'very shortly'

Brian Tamaki. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi / File image
Brian Tamaki. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi / File image
Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki has won his appeal against being remanded in custody.

It is expected he will be released from prison soon.

A Facebook Live video was posted on Destiny Church-aligned The Freedoms & Rights Coalition Facebook page this afternoon.

In it, supporters, who are gathered outside Auckland's Mt Eden Corrections Facility, said church leader Brian Tamaki would be released from the facility "very shortly".

The song Celebration played as people lined the street.

People gathered outside the facility supporting Tamaki's release were urged to stick to their bubbles.

Justice Paul Davison ordered Judge Thomas' decision to have Tamaki remanded in prison be quashed, and granted Tamaki to be released from custody on a 24-hour curfew.

Supporters gathered outside Mt Eden prison where Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki is being held...
Supporters gathered outside Mt Eden prison where Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki is being held. Photo: Alex Burton

Tamaki's bail conditions include:

• Not to organise, attend, support or speak at any protest gathering in breach of current Covid-19 level requirements.

• Not to access or use the internet for the purpose of organising or encouraging non-compliance with the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, or any orders made pursuant to the Act.

• Not to attend at, enter or remain at the Auckland Domain on any day that a protest against the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 or Orders under it, is advertised or a gathering in breach of the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 or Orders under it is taking place.

• To reside at his home in Auckland, subject to a 24-hour, seven days a week, curfew.

• Not to arrange or attend any meetings or gatherings of people to take place at his home for the purpose of organising or encouraging non-compliance with the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, or any orders made pursuant to that Act.

Justice Davison earlier today had reserved his decision, saying he intended to release it this afternoon.

Supporters gathered outside central Auckland's Mt Eden Corrections Facility this morning as the hearing got under way.

Hundreds of devotees converged in a "welcome party" for the controversial church leader they hope will be let out of prison today after his 10-day stint behind bars.

Tents have been set up and people are lining the roads surrounding the prison.

A host of the welcome party live-streamed on the Man Up Facebook page this morning encouraged more people to join them and described it as "Freedom Day for the mighty man".

Between 200 and 300 supporters have been gathering outside the prison since Tamaki was imprisoned last Monday.

Tamaki has been in Mt Eden Prison since being arrested at his Auckland home on Monday last week for allegedly breaching his bail conditions by speaking at a January anti-vaccine rally in Christchurch attended by more than 100 people - more than allowed under the Covid-19 traffic light system.

Judge Evangelos Thomas had remanded the high-profile church leader in custody until his next court appearance tomorrow, a decision Tamaki immediately appealed.

Through his lawyers, Tamaki, who is facing five charges relating to allegedly breaching Covid-19 lockdown restrictions by attending Auckland Domain lockdown protests and for breaching bail, said last Monday he'd "defend what is alleged when permitted".

"It is not accepted that he should have been remanded in custody and any longer period on remand will be challenged vigorously."

Tamaki has already pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Tamaki believed in the "value of the rule of law" and was disappointed by those to "seek to silence him".

"It is a sad day for the freedom of all New Zealanders when people cannot gather and be heard in opposition to government policy when they believe it to be wrong and contrary to the good of the people," he said.

The breach of bail hearing is expected to take place tomorrow at Auckland District Court, but Mansfield told the Herald he's still awaiting final confirmation in case the hearing is affected by the country's move to the Covid-19 red light setting on Sunday night.

He declined to comment when asked how his client was doing.

However, Tamaki's wife, Hannah Tamaki, posted on Facebook yesterday that "my darling is doing good".

"He has his Bible, doing lots of study, can't wait to have him home. Thank you all, you beautiful people for your support and for dropping down to hang with us at Mt Eden correction [sic] facility.. your kind words & prayers."

Brian Tamaki was likely separated from other inmates for 14 days and routinely tested for Covid-19, along with all newly arrived prisoners.

He won't have been allowed face-to-face visits from family or friends, or his legal representation, while in custody.

On Thursday night, Tamaki's supporters barricaded the entrance of Mt Eden Prison in a standoff with prison officials over claims of hygiene products being withheld.

A Facebook live video showed Destiny Church followers lined up across the entrance to the facility, linking arms and blocking vehicles from entering or exiting the site.

After a few hours of negotiation between Tamaki's son-in-law Caine Warren and police and prison officials, the situation was resolved and the group disbanded.

Supporters of Tamaki set up camp outside the prison by Friday.

Epsom MP and Act leader David Seymour was calling for the church leader to be moved to Spring Hill Prison, so his "pilgrims" could protest away from where they're disrupting others.

Neighbours had told him the protest site was "a riot" at night and he could see why people felt intimidated after visiting himself, Seymour said.

Tamaki's supporters said they had gone to great efforts to meet police every day and maintain healthy communication during the church leader's time in prison.

Destiny Church-aligned Freedoms & Rights Coalition later released a statement on social media accusing Seymour of being aggressive towards Hannah Tamaki.

Seymour denied the claims and said he was speaking to the group on behalf of a constituent.



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