Article Title:Comment: Hurricane Brian?
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:3rd April 2007 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:1659
Text:After reading Brian Tamaki's biography, I'm inclined to believe that this man is a serious threat. Unfortunately for him, the threat happens to be to the political prospects of his own Christian Right mates. Let me explain. Tamaki is intending to repeat the fiasco that was his "Enough is Enough" march against civil unions, only this time, he's targeting Sue Bradford's Section 59 Repeal Bill. Whenever I mention Tamaki's name to iwi-affiliated Maori, most utter the words "whanau wrecker" under their breath. Otherwise, they try to ignore him. He ignores mainstream issues of Maori concerns like the seabed and foreshore legislation, so most iwi-affiliated Maori return the favour. As one prominent academic said to me: "He's not the harbinger of the Maori Christian Right, he is the Maori Christian Right. Okay, just barely on the Maori side of things." I'm not denying that Tamaki has some excellent entrepreneurial skills, but like most entrepreneurial highfliers, there's always the need to do one's homework on strategy, and unfortunately, that's where Tamaki falls flat on his face. To be sure, he's constantly trying to broaden Brand Destiny, through association with the Kingitanga movement, where he tries to obtain photo opportunities to enhance his own reflected Mana. In the case of Kingitanga, though, that Mana is the product of generations of skilled, self-sacrificing leadership. Brand Destiny is basically Brand Brian Tamaki. As his biography explains, he grew up poor in the Rotorua area, and his pre-fundamentalist dad was a violent man. Brian left school early, played rugby, worked in forestry, got drunk often, got Hannah pregnant, got Pentecostalism and turned his life around. Due to the instability and deprivation of his beginnings, Tamaki has become highly egocentric. According to his book, this led to some highly divisive outcomes. First, he decided to rebrand Rotorua Apostolic Church "Lake City Church," which was then recovering from a church split. Then, he had to fend off irate anti-Pentecostal fundamentalist farmers, and even a renegade prayer group plotting his downfall. And then, there were the congregational problems with marital infidelity, cohabitation and... bestiality. Having made Rotorua safe for ovinekind, Brian and Hannah moved north to Auckland, where he would find new foes aplenty. However, and most intriguingly, those foes weren't always LGBT Aucklanders, as one might expect, but within the wider fundamentalist community itself. After founding Destiny Church, Brian has clashed with the Association of Pentecostal Churches of New Zealand (who backed United Future), United Future (for its two confidence and supply agreements with Labour), the Maxim Institute (for backing National), the National Party (for not having fundamentalist leadership), Television New Zealand (for dumping Destiny Television), Mike Yardley of Newstalk ZB (critical interviewing style), ex-parishioner Kelly Chal (annoyed with not becoming Destiny New Zealand leader), Radio Rhema (for making unsupported allegations about DNZ hacking of its election polling), Challenge Weekly (for its critical comment) and academia, for its social liberalism. As homophobic and transphobic as he is, he doesn't seem to have respect for pakeha fundamentalist institutions if they dare criticise his authoritarian leadership style and desire for domination. It means that he's a liability to the Christian Right, as he never coordinates his actions with anyone who doesn't uncritically adulate him. One result was the Enough is Enough fiasco in August 2004, when he scared people into supporting civil unions, and one suspects there'll be a similar outcome when he marches against Section 59 Repeal. Unfortunately for Brian, but fortunately for social reformist causes, he seems to believe that he is infallible, and that his earlier march "worked." Still, Brian Tamaki is a useful figure. He represents a throwback to the days of Graham Capill, who was also an organisational separatist who presided over his own share of greater Christian Right tactical and strategic shipwrecks before corruption engulfed the former and he fell from his self-perceived "heights." He's a liability to them, but he'll never admit it. He's probably "our" greatest secret weapon. Recommended: Brian Tamaki: More Than Meets the Eye: Auckland: Tamaki Publishing: 2006: Craig Young - 3rd April 2007    
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