6 Dec 2018

Destiny Church rallies at Parliament for access to prisons

5:46 pm on 6 December 2018

An estimated 2000 Destiny Church supporters rallied at Parliament this afternoon demanding access to prisons for their rehabilitation programmes, and millions of dollars in funding.

The leader of the church, Brian Tamaki, says his Man Up and Legacy programmes have helped hundreds of people turn their lives around, many of whom have spent years in the criminal justice system.

He said Man Up isn't just a programme it is a lifestyle.

Man Up's website describes the 15-week programme as a link to a 'brotherhood', which helps men identify and understand issues in their lives, and work through them for a more stable future.

Toku Kopu, 57, is an ex president of the Mongrel Mob and said Man Up changed his life.

"I mean I was a violent offender and a repeat offender, and I've been in and out of prison since I was 12 and now I'm two years clean and able to focus better.

"I changed my friends to positive people, just surrounded myself with lots of people who were in the same predicament as me and Man Up helped me with that."

Mr Kopu said he would never return to a life of crime.

Brian Tamaki claimed his programmes had been refused access to prisons and had their funding applications rejected.

The Corrections Department said it had never received a formal application from Destiny Church to deliver Man Up or Legacy in prisons.

The Justice Minister Andrew Little said the church had also never applied for funding.

"I'm not trying to point the finger of blame here, let's just understand what it is that the issues are for [Mr Tamaki] and his Man Up programme and let's see if we can pull something together which helps the government achieve its objectives which is reducing family violence and reducing the number of folks going to prison."

The Employment Minister Willie Jackson said if the Destiny Church went through the proper channels then they could be able to get into prisons and get the funding they needed.

"I think that's the problem here is that they actually haven't gone through a formal process in terms of applications, so let's see what they come up with."

Brian Tamaki however appeared unwilling to play ball.

"Go through the channels? Well how come the Prime Minister can assign $30 million without even consulting to the Papua New Guinean Government and they misused it, and they have billions of dollars for pine trees and I'm talking about just a little bit of money for people."

Asked again whether he would go through the correct channels, Mr Tamaki said he did not have time for that.

"I've been waiting for 20 years and I'm doing the business without taxpayers money."