15 May 2024

Brian Tamaki claims responsibility for defacing Gisborne rainbow crossing

5:49 pm on 15 May 2024
Pro-Israel Protestors, led by Brian Tamaki, demonstrate at Parliament

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki has told a public meeting that he instructed his followers to vandalise a rainbow pedestrian crossing.

Church members have recently been charged for painting over rainbow crossings in Gisborne and Auckland, and were blamed for the cancellation of drag events at public libraries.

Speaking to the faithful in Whanganui on Tuesday night, Tamaki openly claimed responsibility for the Gisborne crossing being covered in paint.

"I said to the boys, 'Get the paint out, we'll hit this'. I didn't expect we'd get the reaction that we we did when we painted it over - I think that's the record time that police have responded to any incident," he said to laughter from the audience.

"People were aghast in the community - some have been waiting for a police visit because they got robbed, mugged, in one case a very bad beating, six weeks waiting for police to come to their home.

"But they sent 25 cops there (to the crossing)."

A rainbow pedestrian crossing has been painted over by Destiny Church members in Gisborne

Gisborne's rainbow crossing when it was painted over. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Six people aged 45 to 54 have been pleaded not guilty to a range of charges in relation to the Gisborne vandalism.

Tamaki said they had tried to raise their concerns directly with councils about the "millions being spent to support the gay pride movement" and the threat to children's innocence, but were told to "buzz off".

He said his granddaughter's husband, Ford O'Connor, who pleaded guilty last month to a charge of intention of damaging the Karangahape Road rainbow crossing, was acting to protect his children.

He was showing his opposition to the relationship and sexuality curriculum in schools, which included instructions for girls about "how to stimulate themselves" and told children as young as 5 they could choose their gender, Tamaki said.

Tamaki was travelling and not available for an interview with RNZ.

However, in a written response to questions, he said Destiny Church had always been "upfront and open and issued press releases stating clearly that the church organised the painting over the Gisborne rainbow crossing as a political protest".

The rainbow crossing on Auckland's Karangahape Road was covered in white paint overnight. Rain overnight washed much of the paint away, but remnants could still be seen on the crossing, 28 March 2024.

Auckland's Karangahape Road crossing the morning after it was painted over. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

"All Gisborne individuals charged are pleading 'not guilty' as this was not a criminal action, it was an action of peaceful political protest."

He said he was not worried about being charged himself, and denied using his considerable influence to get his followers to "do his dirty work".

"This question is just muckraking by media. I always front-foot political protests taken, and as a result, I have received multiple charges and even gone to prison myself."

Gisborne mayor Rehette Stoltz declined to say whether she thought Tamaki should face charges.

A spokesperson said the mayor believed: "Brian Tamaki has taken up too much oxygen already and she won't be commenting any further".

Auckland Council said it was a matter for Auckland Transport, which told RNZ it was a police matter.

RNZ has asked the police whether Tamaki could be charged over the crossings, but they have yet to respond.

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