Destiny Church receives Govt funding

Herald, New Zealand/June 8, 2011

Brian Tamaki's Destiny Church has received $860,000 in Government funding, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett confirmed this afternoon.

"I'm aware of interest in claims made by Church members that Government departments aren't funding their projects," said Ms Bennett.

However, Ms Bennett said Destiny's social services arm Te Runanga a Iwi o Te Oranga Ake had received Minstry of Social Development (MSD) funding.

MSD had approved $850,000 to fund four Community Max programmes in Auckland, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty for 79 young people.

The organisation also received $10,000 for Breakaway youth programmes.

"Let me be clear, Government funding decisions are not based on religious affiliation. Organisations are funded to deliver programmes based on merit, just as funding is declined where there is no discernible merit."

Ms Bennett also said Destiny had been lobbying the Government "regarding its complaint of a lack of funding".

She said she recently received a letter from the Church's George Ngatai in which he alleged discrimination against the church amongst MSD officials.

However Ms Bennett said she was "satisfied" with funding decisions to date.

Maori politicians including National MP Tau Henare, Labour MP Shane Jones, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira were invited to speak at the Destiny Church's annual conference in Auckland on Saturday.

The church has attracted criticism in the past over its controversial stance on homosexuality and claims from former churchgoers that it is a money-making venture.

The MPs' attendance coincided with calls from the church for Government funding for its social services, including from the Whanau Ora programme.

Whanau Ora minister Tariana Turia said she would not treat Destiny any differently from any other community group and believed they were a strong organisation.

"I would never, ever discriminate against Destiny Church. My firm belief is that they do a really great job. We contracted them for Community Max, they did a great job, they do a great job with families, they run an excellent kura."

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