Destiny Church 'town' could get millions from Govt

TVNZ, New Zealand/January 11, 2012

Destiny Church's plans for its own 'town' in South Auckland could be in line for millions of dollars of Government funding.

Self-styled 'Bishop' Brian Tamaki declared at a New Year's Eve 'MegaService' in Rotorua that the church had secured resource consent to build schools, a university and a massive auditorium in Wiri.

Speaking to ONE News in his first interview since securing permission for the complex, Tamaki said the Government should be supporting the development.

"I'd rather see a church build bigger churches, they're far more positive than our prisons and that's where most of our whanau are," he said.

"People can say what they want but it's going ahead, it's happened and as I say, it's a community that involves only good things. The values that we teach builds families, it doesn't break families down."

Tamaki's vision has support from within Government from the Minister for Maori Affairs, Pita Sharples.

"It's far more positive if you can keep people out of going to prison," he said. "That's where we've got a start, not try and reform them after."

Sharples said Destiny's plans would be eligible for millions of dollars of Government funding, particularly for its proposal to build a school, and believes the group's track record would mean an application would be taken very seriously.

ONE News has obtained a copy of the resource consent from Auckland Council that confirms Destiny's plans to house a church, schools, childcare centre, gym and even a hairdressing salon at the three hectare site.

Tamaki said the development will cost tens of millions of dollars with most of the money coming from donations from his congregation.

"Over time it's going to be serious cash and that all comes from those who believe it, and have walked this journey, and see the benefits from their children and grandchildren," he said.

Church is 'more than just a service'

Religious historian Peter Lynam described the development as a typical example of the modern pentecostal church.

"Church is much more than just a service, it combines a whole load of community facilities and for that a great big enlarged warehouse makes sense," he told TVNZ News at 8.

"For the increasing impact of the church he (Tamaki) probably needs a mega base with facilities for everything."

Lynam said he was surprised by Sharples' support for the project, but said he was right that it could be in line for Government funding.

"There's lots of ways in which private institutions and church institutions can find funding - not for the religious side of their activities but for the community building side of their activities," he said.

"It (Destiny Church) has done a great deal of therapeutic work with people and on that basis I think Sharples is right. He stands credit to get some money.

"It's not a very attractive message though, I don't think people want to hear a rather sectarian body can receive a good deal of state funding."

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