The very godly prophet Brian Tamaki has had a very busy few weeks. First, he suggested that New Zealand became a "Muslim nation" when the Muslim call to prayer rang through the country during memorial services for the victims of the Christchurch terror attacks.
Then he appeared to stand up for Israel Folau and threatened "war" against anyone who suggested that the Bible contains passages of hate speech.
Then he revealed that he planned to use prison visits to incite prisoner revolts if Corrections didn't allow his Man Up programme into prisons (though Corrections has apparently received no formal application for the programme).
Then he accused politicians who condemned his tweet about prisoner revolts of attempting to politically "gang-rape" him.
Then he claimed on RNZ that his tweet about prisoner revolts was just an attention-seeking ploy all along.
Then he published a wandering press release making allegations about increased Muslim immigration, in which he claimed that the Government had changed its immigration policy to allow up to 2000 Muslim migrants to move to Christchurch after the mosque shootings, then asked whether the immigration policy had indeed been changed and whether the figure of 2000 was correct.
Have I got all that around the right way? His Godliness' proclamations have been flying so fast that it's been difficult to keep track.
Amid the noise, what stood out most to me is that Tamaki wants taxpayer money for Man Up, and he's very grumpy that it hasn't been handed to him.
Man Up claims to help dysfunctional men. The issue of addressing male violence is an important one and is one of the few things that Tamaki and I agree on. I also agree that there are too many Māori in prison, that Māori recidivism rates are too high and that as a nation we must do better.
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I have no doubt that there's a need for programmes to help violent men to open up, deal with their often tragic pasts and learn ways to become better partners, fathers and community members. Many of our worst offenders were first victims of child abuse and neglect. Violent crime is the disturbing legacy of our homegrown epidemic of domestic abuse. Men who have been family violence victims and then go on to victimise their own families undoubtedly need help to break the cycle.
But is Man Up the programme to do that? It has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. For example, earlier this year it was reported that a facilitator in the programme was stood down after telling a domestic abuse survivor that it was her fault that her partner had assaulted her.
"Tell ya what chick if you provoked the man to smack your head in your fault," Junior Ponch said. "You wouldn't be a victim if you never provoked him simple. Don't provoke a man and once he hits you go run and play victim. You lit the fire and got burnt ... Don't go thinking yous can rub a man up and then blame ManUp because he punch your mouth."
Programme director Caine Warren, the son-in-law of Tamaki, told Stuff that Ponch's comments were "not at all what Man Up is about" and revealed that an internal investigation had been launched, but refused to answer questions about how facilitators are trained or vetted. He later refused to answer questions about how the investigation was progressing.
In a separate controversy, a woman told Stuff that her partner broke her jaw the day he graduated from the Man Up programme, and later used his Man Up certificate to attempt to prove his good character in court.
With a theme emerging, Women's Refuge's Ang Jury added further weight to concerns about the programme's outcomes. Women's Refuge had heard similar allegations about victim-blaming in Man Up courses "more than once, particularly in Auckland, where the Man Up courses are more popular". "Men are being taught that if their wives and partners would just do as they're told, and not wind them up, then they'd be okay."
Victim-blaming is only one of the charges being levelled against the programme. Unsurprisingly, given its ties to Destiny Church, Man Up has been accused of discrimination and exclusion of gay partners, husbands and fathers. In response to the allegation, Warren told the Herald that "the feeling behind why a man is gay is because, in a lot of ways like other men that have had harder upbringings, they've fallen into a place where they haven't been loved … Primarily we believe in a functional man being a husband to a woman is the ideal for a family."
Another recent headline told of the decision made by Man Up members to stage a public demonstration outside Christchurch's Al Noor Mosque – the site of one of the March terror attacks – and declare Jesus Christ as the "one true god". One wonders how on earth the programme would cope with Muslim men seeking its services.
Despite the plethora of negative publicity, the Man Up programme claims to be changing lives for the better. We'll never know whether that's true without the kind of independent analysis the programme would be required to submit to in order to secure a Corrections contract. Tamaki can tell nice stories littered with superlatives until he's blue in the face, but Corrections doesn't generally hand out the millions he's likely seeking without first going through a fairly robust approval process.
Nor does it respond to temper tantrums on social media or threats to incite prisoner revolts in New Zealand prisons (although Justice might have something to say about the latter). Making blustering comments about prison riots when you're trying to secure a contract with Corrections for an anti-violence programme may not be the smartest move.
Whether Man Up is an effective programme or not, Bishop Apostle Messiah Supremely Important Brian, or whatever he's calling himself these days, may want to rethink his tactics.