28 Sep 2021

Police commissioner concerned about interest, potential size of Tamaki protest

4:57 pm on 28 September 2021

The police commissioner has warned the leader of Destiny Church about a planned protest in Auckland this weekend.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Police Commissioner Andrew Coster hold a press conference with the details of the Auckland supermarket terror attack in the Beehive Theatrette on Friday evening.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster is taking a "preventative approach" to the protest. Photo: POOL / Stuff / Robert Kitchin

In a letter to Brian Tamaki, which has been released to RNZ, Andrew Coster said it was helpful to connect with him in an earlier online conversation.

The virtual conversation was held between Tamaki, Coster, and Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha.

"Whilst it is unusual for me to be involved in this kind of discussion, it reflects my concern about the level of interest in this gathering and its potential size," Coster wrote.

"I do not wish to end up in the position that other jurisdictions have when policing protest activity, and prefer to take a preventative approach."

The letter said Tamaki had indicated the protest would be run lawfully, with physical distancing, QR scanning and a mask mandate.

"I note that the current health order requires that people do not leave their homes except for essential personal movement, which creates a risk to those attending this planned event."

No caption

Destiny Church leaders Brian and Hannah Tamaki Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Coster went on to write that while police respected protest as part of democracy, it must be weighed against the lawfulness of the activity.

He warned that gathering for a protest, run other than in compliance with the law, carried the risk of Covid-19 transmission and could lead to enforcement.

The letter ended with Coster reinforcing that by continuing with the planned event, Tamaki risked an enforcement response by police.

At a press conference today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was aware of the online meeting, and said she would leave police to do their job.

"I have confidence in them to deal with every compliance issue they face, with you know, right judgment, because there are judgment calls in all of this" she said.

"What I would say about the protest generally, I mean, no one wants lockdowns. No one wants restrictions, no one wants a situation where particularly those who regularly engage with the community, be it through spiritual worship, or be it through community groups, or clubs, or kids in their playgroups, no one wants wants them separated longer than they need to be."

Ardern said the government was desperate to get rid of the restrictions.

Brian Tamaki declined to comment.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs