Brian Tamaki has extended an olive branch to the rainbow community, offering up an apology to "anyone that has been hurt."
The self-styled bishop of Destiny Church, a Pentecostal fundamentalist Christian church, this week asked up to 50 members of the rainbow community to attend and speak at an event during the church's conference tonight.
Taking the stage during the event, Tamaki said: "I want to personally say to anyone in your community that has been hurt .. I want to say sorry."
He added that Destiny Church members had been ridiculed as well.
"If in the past I have made you feel like that then I hope that this is something that we can begin to rectify," Tamaki said.
From now on, he told church members, "we treat that community with respect. We don't snigger or laugh. There will be no more social media comments from this church about you."
Tamaki added that he had not changed his beliefs.
Inquiries by the Herald on Sunday this week suggested few would take up the invitation, expressing doubt and suspicion given how prominent the church leader has been in rejecting the rainbow community, leading marches in 2004 and 2005 against the Civil Union Bill before it was passed into law, blaming same-sex relationships for the Christchurch earthquakes and offering support to Australian rugby player Israel Folau who was sacked over his social media attacks on gays.
One prominent figure from the gay community, James Laverty, was welcomed on stage by Hannah Tamaki, who also is a Destiny pastor. Laverty often performs in drag shows under the name Miss Chocolate Box.
Brian Tamaki's rainbow invitation contrasted with his previous hard line on gays. In a sermon to his congregation in 2015, he claimed "gaypower" was taking over the world and that a whole generation of children will be bisexual because the "perversion of homosexuality is leading the charge".
Rainbow New Zealand chairman Gresham Bradley said this week he'd been invited but would attend a family event instead.
"The hypocrisy is self-evident. My position is wait and see but with very little expectation this is real."
Historian Peter Lineham, who wrote the biography of Destiny Church and planned to attend the event, has previously told the Herald it was likely any shift to soften its stance towards the rainbow community was likely tied to the political aspirations of Coalition NZ, the new party launched at Destiny Church last month and led by Hannah Tamaki.
But the Tamakis' close friend Jevan Goulter, who is gay, said the evening was planned before Coalition NZ's launch and was designed to promote the message that "love is greater than hate" and to create "a new relationship going forward".