Brian Tamaki of the Destiny Church has used an online sermon to tell followers to "do away with the masks" and take a stand against a lockdown he describes as "home detention".
Tamaki went live on social media with the video message this morning, using the sermon as an extended promotion for a nationwide protest planned for October 2.
Telling his viewers he was broadcasting from Auckland, Tamaki stood in a kitchen and addressed his followers directly for 20 minutes.
"I want to talk about 'lockdown madness' and if you're an Aucklander you'll be particularly interested in this because we're the ones going through this and this is not the first time," Tamaki said.
He described the lockdown as "home detention" and said the situation was like being a "hostage in your own home".
The self-styled "apostle" then claimed there was no difference from level 4 lockdown to the home detention meted out to criminals.
"I believe it's time to stop all lockdowns. Finish them. No more lockdowns."
Tamaki also called for an end to New Zealand's elimination strategy as a course through the pandemic.
He said the approach was "economically disastrous" and harming families and businesses and the flow-on effects would cause "social carnage".
He cited domestic violence and declining mental health as outcomes of lockdown and said that these social impacts were a "stronger plague that Covid-19 itself".
He said dropping the elimination strategy was a "no-brainer" because of the likelihood of Covid to eventually reappear in the community.
Tamaki said that vaccination was not a long-term solution to the pandemic and said the Māori and Pacific Island communities have been "herded" into venues to be vaccinated.
He told viewers that the long-term effects of the vaccine were "unknown" and also claimed the vaccine was "untested".
In reality, although the long-term effects of the vaccine were unknown because of its relative novelty, a global effort subjected the vaccines to rigorous testing and the Pfizer vaccine used in New Zealand has been fully approved by the US FDA.
Millions of doses have been administered around the world, with only a statistically tiny amount of adverse reactions recorded.
Tamaki added that new variants would mean more vaccinations.
"It's not just about one jab, it's not just about two jabs. It's probably more than the booster that's coming."
He said that New Zealand needed to "learn how to live" with Covid-19 and the danger of the virus had been "overplayed", telling viewers that "so-called experts" and politicians were using New Zealand as an experiment and had become "drunk on Covid".
"Do away with the masks. Not only are they ridiculous, there's no evidence they protect you from catching Covid," he said.
Although scientists agree that most masks worn by the public do not offer 100 per cent protection against infection, they can help prevent infection and play an important role in public health in reducing the amount of airborne virus, particularly indoors.
He said fear was a side-effect of the virus and was causing harm in communities.
"The fear factor is having more of an effect on our lives than the virus," he said, calling for an end to "mass testing and mass hysteria".
Tamaki and his wife Hannah hit the headlines when they fled Auckland ahead of level 3 lockdown in March.
The couple left the city for Rotorua on a Saturday night, and addressed the faithful gathered for a Sunday morning service in the city they had escaped Auckland to avoid the lockdown.
They then travelled the country, including a trip to the South Island that upset locals.