A Destiny Church covenant ring listed on the auction site Trade Me has angered churchgoers, who say it is stolen and should be handed in to police.

But the seller says he found the ring and has every right to auction it off.

The auction follows criticism of Destiny Church by former members, who claim it is a money-making cult.

One former churchgoer said a new church covenant had encouraged members to pay $300 for one of the rings, which were only available to male members.

The listing on Trade Me shows a silver ring with church leader Brian Tamaki's name and the words "The Covenant" engraved in it, with a red stone set on top.

The Gisborne man selling the ring said in the listing that he had found it at a campsite and reported it missing with management, but nobody had claimed it.

He was not and never had been a member of Destiny Church, he said.

The listing has sparked angry comments from churchgoers, with one calling the seller "a common thief" and another calling him "sick".

"This item may not hold significant value for you but it sure does to the person who may have lost it," a Trade Me user wrote.

Another said they knew who the ring belonged to, and that it had been stolen along with a car.

Church spokesman Richard Lewis said the ring looked legitimate, judging from the photo on the listing.

He said he hoped it would be returned to its owner.

"I think that it would be disappointing for whoever has lost it, that it could possibly be sold off by somebody who doesn't own it and therefore doesn't have the right to sell it," he said.

"It should be rightly returned to its owner, and from what I understand that hasn't happened, or an endeavour hasn't been made to help that happen."

A churchgoer had reported the ring missing with police, Mr Lewis said.

"I am hopeful that, through the proper channels, it can be recovered."

Trade Me trust and safety manager Chris Budge said the site had received two emails from users claiming they knew the ring's owner.

"They believe it could be a stolen ring," he said.

The site responded by asking the users to contact the ring's alleged owner, who could then contact Trade Me and police directly. The site would then take appropriate action.

Trade Me had not yet heard from police or anyone claiming to own the ring.

The auction, which is due to close Sunday, has a starting price of $500 and a buy-now price of $1000.

It has attracted nearly 50 comments, both critical and supportive of the seller, but no bids.

The listing said the auction was an opportunity to own "a weird piece of New Zealand history".

"When you wear the ring it takes control and makes you want to give away all your money to Brian Tamaki so bid at your own risk!"

- NZPA