Anti-domestic violence group White Ribbon is unapologetic about refusing to support an event organised by Destiny Church yesterday, saying it is "not on message" and a distraction to its cause.

Yesterday about 100 motorcyclists cruised up Queen St in central Auckland to Myers Park for a rally run by Man Up.

Between 1000 and 2000 people gathered at the park to hear a number of speakers - including church leader Bishop Brian Tamaki and his wife Hannah.

Brian Tamaki leads march despite controversy

The event had been billed by Destiny as supporting White Ribbon Day, a national charity that aims to end men's violence towards women by encouraging men to lead by example and talk to other men.

But White Ribbon was not supporting the rally at all and has hit out at Tamaki, who was told why days before the event, for trying to trade on its work.

Spokesman Rob McCann said each year numerous events run by different community groups were supported by his organisation around White Ribbon Day, which was marked internationally yesterday.

White Ribbon supported the independent events by supplying official signage, organising for ambassadors to speak or helping with other resources.

McCann said White Ribbon supported hundreds of events - but was not willing to do the same for Tamaki and Man Up.

Whilst not criticising Man Up or Destiny's efforts to reduce family violence, McCann said the programme simply did not align with White Ribbon's key message and values.

"With Man Up, there is no mention of women," he said.

"That is really problematic in our organisation, which exists to prevent men's violence against women.

"Women are part of our message, our founding principals.

Hannah Tamaki during yesterday's event. Photo / Doug Sherring
Hannah Tamaki during yesterday's event. Photo / Doug Sherring

"We were very concerned that this was going to be a significant event and [the organisers] were not going to be on message."

He revealed that when he first heard about Man Up planning the Auckland rally he had "concerns".


The concerns became more serious when he learned Tamaki was set to speak at the event.

McCann said White Ribbon was an inclusive organisation and Tamaki's comments in the past about gay people did not fit in with its principles.

Earlier this month Tamaki referred to gay and lesbian clergy as a "contamination".
Last year he was widely condemned for blaming gay people for earthquakes.

"Our message and campaign is around respectful relationships," McCann said.

"White Ribbon does not want to stand with people who have homophobic views."

/ Source: Facebook

After hearing about Tamaki's inclusion as a guest speaker, he wrote to Destiny.

"I am writing to say that we are extremely concerned about the We Stand Because We Care Event and the association with White Ribbon," he wrote.

"As you are aware, White Ribbon has only been informed of the details in the last few days, and this has given us very little time to ensure that the event fits the kaupapa of White Ribbon."

McCann listed the specific concerns White Ribbon had, including:

"That many of the widely expressed views of Brian Tamaki are not compatible with White Ribbon values.

"That the publicity for the event fails to highlight violence by men towards women, in fact women are not mentioned at all."

"Our impression from the publicity material is that men are the leaders of their families and this fails to recognise the diversity of families in New Zealand and the need to challenge gender roles and focus on women's equality, which is a protection against violence.

"That the wide range of issues being raised by the event are important, but risk overshadowing the main message of White Ribbon."

McCann said in light of the concerns, it was not possible for White Ribbon to support the event as it was planned.

"We respectfully request that Brian Tamaki withdraw from the list of speakers, that all messaging be realigned to match White Ribbon's 2017 campaign focus," he wrote.

"If this is not possible, we will be left with no choice but to withdraw our White Ribbon Ambassador, and insist that the White Ribbon name be removed from this event."
McCann ended the letter commending Tamaki for the Man Up programme.

"We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of many individuals that belong to both Destiny and or Man Up," he wrote.

"Our stance should in no way denigrate the sincerity of individuals willing to help end violence in all its forms."

McCann said there was "no response" from Destiny.

White Ribbon ambassador Mike Tana at a White Ribbon event in Upper Hutt. Photo / supplied
White Ribbon ambassador Mike Tana at a White Ribbon event in Upper Hutt. Photo / supplied

He was disappointed the important message about violence against women had been overshadowed by Tamaki.

The key message for White Ribbon this year is respectful relationships, with a specific focus on ensuring Kiwi dads "have the skills and confidence to talk to their sons about respectful relationships and respectful sexual relationships".

McCann said with the recent cases in Hollywood of men abusing women - specifically prominent film producer Harvey Weinstein - it was an extremely timely and important message to spread.

"This was a really important opportunity as a community to start talking about this," he said.

"It's disappointing that instead, we're not talking about men's violence - we're talking about Brian Tamaki."

After the rally yesterday Tamaki hit back at White Ribbon in a post on Facebook, accusing McCann of engaging in "nasty" behaviour.


"To criticise and talk like you and others do might suggest to me White Ribbon... may need some Man Up sessions themselves," he posted.

Earlier in the day Tamaki, speaking to people at the rally, defended himself from criticism that he was "homophobic".

"I got many gay friends, I've never hated anybody who has a different sexual orientation," he said.

"But I do have beliefs, and my beliefs and my opinion should be freely heard by anybody and anywhere."

Tamaki believed he was free to make statements that were not pro-gay.

"I love those people, but I don't have to agree with those people," he said.


"And because you disagree doesn't make us haters. We hold our principle, we hold on to what we believe."