It wasn't an intentional send-up, but the wife of Destiny Church's Bishop Brian Tamaki has blasted the smooth character of Cardinal Hoani in Sione's Wedding 2 as shameful and "racist".
Hannah Tamaki says she isn't happy with the depiction of Hoani, the leader of the fictitious church Future Vision, who is shadowed by bodyguards, demands subjects kiss his ring and ends up in a strip club.
"It's stupid. I know for a fact my husband would never go to a strip joint. We had a good laugh with our friends - we know that's not us."
She slammed the film as "racist" towards Maori but when asked to explain further, said it "shamed our Samoan people. I thought the movie didn't portray Samoans very nicely."
Hoani, played by Kirk Torrance of Outrageous Fortune, is church leader to one of the key characters, Stanley. Stanley follows church edicts and has forgone sex, food and alcohol, but he's floored when he sees Cardinal Hoani at a strip club, getting a lap dance.
However, co-writer Oscar Kightley and producer John Barnett say the character was not an out-and-out depiction of Bishop Tamaki, but of a generic, larger-than-life religious leader.
"There's a degree of veneration of the leader. It requires henchmen, it requires acolytes like Stanley," Mr Barnett said.
He said Hoani getting a lap dance wasn't meant to reflect the lifestyles of any church leaders in the country. Charismatic church leaders were natural material for writers, he said.
"I think most religious institutions have taken a beating in the last few years and have become objects of parody in comedy and drama. It's absolutely fair game," he said.
Kightley said it would've been petty to parody Bishop Tamaki and wasn't what he or co-writer James Griffin set out to do.
"James and I didn't discuss him at all. We put a lot of things from popular culture, nothing specific, and then of course exaggerate those things. But there was no discussion about targeting anybody.
"We just wrote what we thought would be a cool story with elements drawn from life that we hope people would be familiar with and connect with," Kightley said.
Because Bishop Tamaki had a high media profile, people might associate the Cardinal with the Bishop, he said.