Mana Movement leader Hone Harawira has criticised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and senior ministers, saying they have written off Destiny Church's Man Up programme because it is backed by Brian Tamaki.
Harawira, a former MP who lost his Te Tai Tokerau seat to Kelvin Davis in 2014, said Davis had done nothing to address the high rate of incarceration for Māori in his time as Corrections Minister.
Instead, he, Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson had attacked Tamaki personally, Harawira said in a statement today.
"It's one thing to say Man Up is a great programme or Man Up is a rat shit programme, but they're not saying that at all. They're just saying 'Brian Tamaki, he's a self-appointed bishop. He tithes people and he's got a Harley Davidson, his wife's got a flash car, he says anti-gay things'.
"Kelvin's issues about Brian Tamaki and the Man Up programme have been all about attacking Brian Tamaki, not about the effectiveness of the programme.
"I know, from having been in jail myself. I know, from providing a programme that helps guys reintegrate from prison to the outside world for the last four years now … that Man Up is being effective."
Harawira said it was not for Destiny Church to prove the programme worked, but for the Government to assess its effectiveness.
"Do you think Catholics provided proof when they first put up justice programmes, when they first put up education programmes? No.
"My issue is simple. The Government has done no assessment whatsoever of the programme, no evaluation of the effectiveness of it, no review of the recidivism of Man Up graduates."
Harawira said he was not a member of Destiny Church and he didn't agree with a lot of Tamaki's beliefs.
Tamaki has been engaged in a war of words with the Government over the anti-violence programme.
His comment was condemned by Ardern and senior ministers.
Davis said Tamaki had "blown it" in terms of getting the programme inside prisons, although Justice Minister Andrew Little said it was worth considering anything that could reduce family violence.
All agreed that Destiny Church should follow the process and make a formal application to Corrections for the programme.
Tamaki earlier warned of revolts in prisons if the Government denied access to the programme.
In December last year, he led a rally of 2000 supporters, including leather-clad bikers, to Parliament to urge the Government to allow the church to work