Destiny's prices double

New Zealand Herald/January 24, 2016

By Simon Plumb

Destiny Church wants its faithful to dig deeper this year, almost doubling the cost of tickets to attend its annual conference.

The controversial organisation, led by self-styled bishop Brian Tamaki, has been touting "early bird prices" for this year's conference with adult tickets priced at $120 each. Last year they were $65.

Prices have also nearly doubled for senior citizens, youths and children wanting to attend the Queen's Birthday Weekend event.

Destiny followers have taken to the church's Facebook page with questions about the tickets. One asked: "Just a question. Why are the prices so high?"

A church spokeswoman said no one was available for comment on why prices had gone up and what people could expect for the money.

Last year's conference, marketed by the church as "Born in the Fire", involved Tamaki leading a charge against gay rights and supporters showering the stage with thousands of dollars in cash.

And this week, Tamaki posted a picture of bundles of $100 notes to his Twitter followers, with the message: "Money not placed in the hands of God will be limited in value".

Massey University history professor Peter Lineham, who wrote the 2013 book Destiny: The Life and Times of a Self-Made Apostle, said Destiny's annual conferences are a prime revenue stream, estimating they can net the church up to $500,000.

Lineham believes the price increase reflects a stabilisation in the church's politics. In December 2013, Tamaki's right-hand man Richard Lewis turned his back on Destiny to become a pastor after others had also quit the church.

"I thought the prices over the last couple of years were quite low and I wondered if that was because they were anxious to get people along when loyalties were a bit divided," Lineham told the Herald on Sunday.

In November, the Herald on Sunday revealed a trust owned by church members spent almost $2 million on a rural Auckland hideaway.

The 67ha plot in Clevedon, southeast of Auckland, has a four-bedroom home, barn, woolshed and dressage area. It appears the Tamakis may be building on the property. Hannah Tamaki has posting to social media about the spot, saying she had taken her parents "to have a look where we plan to build".

The Tamakis sold their five-bedroom, five-bathroom Maraetai Beach house last year for $1.5m before renting a sprawling six-bedroom retreat across the road, owned by National Minister Judith Collins.

The most recent annual return of Destiny Church's primary charity, Te Hahi o Nga Matamua Holdings, declared that in March last year it had assets of $8.9m, which included $8.5m in land, buildings, investments and other long-term assets and $443,006 in cash and short-term assets.

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