Destiny Church leader Bishop Brian Tamaki has ramped up his war of words with the Government, today tweeting that it looked like Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and senior ministers had tried a "political gang rape" of him.
His tweet this morning, which also had Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis in its sights, is his latest response in a battle over Destiny Church's Man Up programme, which Tamaki wants to introduce into the country's prisons.
Tamaki told the Herald today his reference to gang rape was nothing to do with the experience of people who had been raped but referred instead to a "planned assault by Labour's top MPs on his character.
He said that to liken his use of the phrase to the act of gang rape was to "pervert what my real meaning is there because that's nothing to do with that at all".
"The term is about three senior Cabinet Ministers … ranting about a prison reform programme, a successful one at that – Man Up – ranting on social media and one of them criticising me. Don't you think that's a bit more than coincidence?"
"Our prison system is in a serious condition and Kelvin's got not answers to it."
Tamaki has warned of revolts in prisons if the Government continues to deny access to Destiny Church's Man Up anti-violence programme.
Despite his claims, the Government and Corrections have repeatedly said Destiny Church has never made an application to run the course in Corrections' facilities.
Tamaki told RNZ this morning he tweeted about a prison uprising because he was frustrated.
"I put that tweet out because they refused to listen.
"The incitement is not serious, really, I can't cause that in prisons, how do I do that? We're not even allowed in ... but I got your attention, that's what it was."
Yesterday in a series of tweets, Tamaki warned of prisoner uprisings, he and his wife Hannah traded insults with Grant Robertson and Tamaki called Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis a liar.
Ardern bit back yesterday, calling it "irresponsible" to incite violence in prisons.
"We've made the point time and time again that there is a process that we have to go through. We're obliged to make sure that when anyone is seeking to put a programme into Corrections that there's a procurement process," Ardern told reporters at her regular weekly press conference.
"My best advice is that Man Up has not gone through that process. They've repeatedly criticised the Government for not allowing them into prisons but then do nothing to formally make an attempt to put anything towards Corrections and enter into a process.
"I do think it's irresponsible to try to incite violence in the prison system because you're not getting your way."
She said Tamaki was trying to claim his course was being denied access to prisons but she understood he had never tried to.
"If this is all about trying to get his programme into prisons then he should focus on doing it properly."
In December last year, Tamaki led a rally of 2000 supporters including leather-clad bikers, to Parliament to urge the Government to allow the church to work in prisons.