Mihirawhiti Searancke, wh' />

A lesbian Maori listened to Destiny Church's Hannah Tamaki at a "campaign supper" this week - and liked what she heard.

Mihirawhiti Searancke, who has Ngati Maniapoto whakapapa links to both Hannah and husband Bishop Brian Tamaki, went to a Maori Women's Welfare League meeting at a Destiny church in Hamilton on Tuesday.

She said she was there to "tautoko" (support) them both but wanted to see whether Mrs Tamaki showed leadership traits.

"What I saw ... was someone who could relate to the women in the audience, someone who spoke very well, someone who was honest within herself, and [I wanted to see] if - but for the Destiny Church tag - she would come across as a very charismatic but very ordinary Maori woman who has an extreme love for her people."

Ms Searancke said she believed all churches had a long way to go in their attitudes to gay and lesbian people.

Fellow lesbian Prue Kapua is a member of the league branch that complained to the head office that Destiny branches were unconstitutional as they were sectarian. She reiterated her position on Radio Waatea.

"They are ... Destiny branches, branches of the hahi [faith]. That compromises the non-sectarian requirement in terms of the league."

But Hine Puru, daughter of the late Dame Whina Cooper and a former vice-president, said she was disappointed the league was undertaking an inquiry into the branches - a step she saw as divisive.

"My mother was a strong Catholic woman. Did she convert everyone to Catholicism?"

Mrs Tamaki wants to be league president but was bumped from the voting papers after the complaints that the Destiny branches were unconstitutional. Sources suspect some lesbians in the league are offended by Destiny's anti-gay stance.