There are claims of bullying and blackmail within the Wanganui District Council.

The Wanganui District Council has overturned 170 years of tradition and voted to stop opening its meetings with a Christian prayer.

It follows a High Court judgement in Britain that's ruled they're not lawful.

Clive Solomon who first objected to the prayer in April says it was something that had to go.

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"We've achieved everything that was necessary so really nothing further needs to happen, I think we've made enormous progress and it's a fantastic result for secular New Zealand."

He says it's a dying tradition, and the figures back it up.

"About 50 per cent of councils remaining have a prayer so less than half but what's important there were only three, of which Whanganui was one, where it remains part of the council agenda."

But councillor Allan Anderson says it's a debate that should never have been had.

He claims Mr Solomon used blackmail to have it abolished.

"All the time he kept saying `if you don't abolish it I will take you to court, I will cost this council money, I have the support of overseas organisations and I will cost this city dearly'."

Mr Anderson says Clive Solomon has a long history of litigation with people and doesn't know why he opposed the prayer so much.

He says he'd defy anybody to take exception to it.

But Massey University religious historian Dr Peter Lineham says it's not worth arguing over.

"You have a prayer in parliament, well surely if parliament can have a prayer anybody can start with the prayer, but the moment they start wrangling over it I think it probably has to go," he told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking.

Dr Lineham thinks the decision in England could be quite easily overturned by a higher court