Jevan Goulter is a media and public relations consultant who has been friends with Brian and Hannah Tamaki for a decade.

I'm sitting on a stool at the kitchen bench flicking through my newsfeed on my phone when Brian Tamaki speaks.

"This is something that has been on my mind for a long time," he says.

Holy crap, he is serious… The text I woke up to earlier that morning was not a joke. You mean he really wants to reach out to the LGBTQI + community and invite them into the church?

As I swing around on the bar stool, I say to the Bishop: "You can't just invite a bunch of gay people into the church Brian and tell them they are your neighbour and that you love them."

Such words would probably work for his Sunday flock but I made damn sure he was under no illusion that it would not work for the LGBTQI community.

"No, I have wanted to do this for the last couple of years," he says, "but I feel now is the right time".

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The great thing with Brian and I is there is often not to much thought put into ideas. We tend to follow the model of sending the wagon down the hill and hoping the wheels don't fall off before it gets to the bottom.

Hannah walks in and overhears our discussion.

"Oh you are still talking about this. Well if we are going to do it, we better make sure it is done properly. I don't want this to look tokenistic to anybody and you need to be clear on what it is you are saying".

Hannah then quizzes us both for a few minutes as Brian stares at me, and me at him looking rather sheepish.

"Well" said Hannah. "If you are going to go ahead with this, I suggest you two get on the same page".

I said to Brian that his wife had a good point. And in turn asked him why he wanted to do this?

Jevan Goulter speaks to the Destiny Church congregation. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Jevan Goulter speaks to the Destiny Church congregation. Photo / Brett Phibbs

"Over the last 15 years I have evolved as a man and as a leader. The Brian Tamaki I was then is not the same Brian Tamaki I am now," he said.

I think to myself, "oh FML this man is having a mid-life crisis".

He said: "I don't hate that community, I have never had the opportunity to engage or speak to them. They hate me but I want them to know that I don't hate them. I also want them to know it has never been my intent to cause harm or distress to the people in that community. I would apologise to those who I have done that to."

It is at this point I realise this man is serious. The thing with Brian is that anybody who does know him on a personal level, knows that he speaks from his heart.

So the race was on to organise an event for Saturday, June 1, the main night of the Destiny Church conference in South Auckland.

For weeks Brian, Hannah and I kept this to ourselves with only a couple of others aware of our plans. We could not tell anybody anyway as we had not even got ourselves on the same page of what it was. On reflection, it is obvious to me now that Brian knew exactly what he was doing and how he was going to do it.

We were not even sure if it was possible to pull the event off. I had the seemingly impossible task of convincing members of the LGBTQI community to attend. My association with the Tamakis had shot any credibility in that community almost a decade ago.

The phone call I made to Jacquie Grant - a 75-year-old transsexual who had served two terms on the Human Rights Tribunal, two terms as a Grey District Councillor and received two different Queen's Honours, ended up being one of the most surprising outcomes through the process. Other than the accolades mentioned, she is also a guardian of the Pride Rainbow Auckland organisation.

Jacquie said, "Well if he's serious about doing this then I will do it because this is not about Brian or me, this is about young people, the attitudes their families have and saving lives".

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Jevan Goulter with Hannah and Brian Tamaki. Photo / Supplied
Jevan Goulter with Hannah and Brian Tamaki. Photo / Supplied

Along with Jacquie, also intending to come were James Laverty and a number of other members from the LGBTQI community.

What happened next was, I knew, going to be a pain in the arse. News leaked National list MP Alfred Ngaro was considering forming a political party.

Of course, this was something that Brian, Hannah, Anne (Williamson, Destiny lynchpin) and I had been talking about for 12 months. We were faced with the decision of announcing our intentions now or leaving it for a while and seeing where things lay in a few months.

We were less than three weeks out from - the night of the conference main event - and I knew that was going to be an issue as we would face the press and public who would naturally assume this whole event had been pre-conceived.

Well this is one of those instances where I refer you to the wagon down the hill. When the wheels start to buckle, you stop, change them, and keep going. Which is exactly what we did.

With 48 hours' notice, it was decided we would announce the political party!

"S***…. You know how this is going to look right….? Like a PR stunt and that we just want votes."

And of course, without needing a crystal ball to foresee the future, that is exactly what happened.

However, Brian was adamant to steam train ahead with the night.

For me personally, I didn't want to deter or postpone the event because once the political party was launched, it wouldn't have mattered. Any event like this before the election would be seen as vote-gathering.

It's Saturday evening and I arrive at the church. The delegation of about a dozen people arrive from the community and we mull around for half-an-hour before Anne takes us on a quick tour.

Destiny Church pastor Hannah Tamaki with James Laverty, who later resigned from Rainbow Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Destiny Church pastor Hannah Tamaki with James Laverty, who later resigned from Rainbow Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Of course the only reason there was time pressure was Brian rang Anne at the last minute to get her to change his speech around. I was thinking to myself, "crap Brian, what the heck are you doing? No surprises needed, thanks!"

I accepted that what would be, would be. And it turned out he rose further to the occasion that night than anybody anticipated.

The night began with James Laverty speaking. He had the jam-packed congregation with him every step of the way as he spoke from his heart.

What an idiot I was - I should have gone first. Having to follow that, which got a standing ovation, was bloody difficult!

As Hannah emcees the evening, reading off her phone, it looks like she misread my text message about the speaking order. It's hardly her fault as I had only texted her the speaking order when we took our seats and the evening had begun.

Next up, she calls Jacquie Grant to the stage. The idea had been for me to go before Jacquie and then her and Brian would lead us out.

Jacquie gives a personal account of her own experiences and speaks confidently and honestly confronting the congregation and reminding them of 2004 (the Enough is Enough march over civil union legislation).

Then it's my turn! It's so hard getting up in front of a few thousand people to speak when I am not allowed to swear or personalise things. I waffle my way through and realise everything I had written I barely stuck to. As it happened I had not put my glasses on beforehand so had no idea what the writing on the page said.

Then Hannah calls Jacquie and James back on stage, thanks us, and hands over a koha in an envelope. This is completely in line with Māori custom and far more practical than a bunch of flowers or a gift box if you are trying to board a plane home the next day.

Rainbow Youth later rejected the donations. It's a position of luxury to be in when you can start picking and choosing who you accept koha from. "How pathetic they are," I put on social media.

Next up was the Bishop. He starts without his speech of course. Why am I not surprised?

Hannah Tamaki, Jacquie Grant, James Laverty and Jevan Goulter at the Destiny Church event. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Hannah Tamaki, Jacquie Grant, James Laverty and Jevan Goulter at the Destiny Church event. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Then Hannah true to form says: "Honey, you better actually read out what you wrote". He gets through that but then decides to go further!

The truth is, working with Brian is like being on a rollar coaster ride.

You don't actually know where the next turn is, how high or low you going to go, are you veering left or doing a full upside down loop. All you know is that you are buckled in and you can't get off until the end.

After saying that, I suspect a roller coaster is less frightening.

As he finished what he referred to as the "script" and continued speaking, I started sinking in my chair. At this point, the damn roller coaster ride was supposed to have finished its course.

What happened next was amazing. Everybody in the room saw a man standing and speaking who was vulnerable, showing humility and determined to say what he felt.

Which is when it happened.

"I'm sorry".

With those two words, the congregation jumped to its feet in applause, and those from the LGBTQI community were estactic and some teary eyed.

No one in that room could ever claim what that man said was insincere or not genuine. The realisation from Brian of the weight he was able to release off those in the audience moved him as much as those on their feet.

As he got of stage, he was embraced by Grant and Laverty.

After the event there was some media Q&A and then everybody ate together and had a really good korero.

It was a historic evening and unfortunately there were not more from the LGBTQI community to be there and witness it. However, it did take place, and those of us that sat in that room will remember what happened for a long time to come.

Now I watch the LGBTQI community tearing shreds of flesh off their own online for daring to attend the evening.

Rainbow Pride Auckland had at the time two guardians and four advisory members attend. Now those in Rainbow Pride Auckland say they don't condone what took place.

Rainbow Youth refuse to accept cash from two longstanding advocates in their community, because they received a koha for their time from Destiny.

Destiny Church's Brian Tamaki, with wife Hannah, at the event during which he apologised to the rainbow community. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Destiny Church's Brian Tamaki, with wife Hannah, at the event during which he apologised to the rainbow community. Photo / Brett Phibbs

And we are seeing now how fierce the online bullying is from within the community that I am a part of towards our own. It's horrible and disgusting.

As former Pride Rainbow Auckland trustee Laverty said, he was initially scared to walk into Destiny but after the next day was more frightened of his own community.

The seed has been planted. I might be on shaky terrain with unpredictable climate conditions, but the point is it will grow even if it is more likely to be a late bloomer and not an overnight sunflower.

Last year Destiny fed the community 20,000 hāngī and travelled up and down the countryside promoting a message of heathy families creating healthy homes.

In contrast last year the LGBTQI community decided not to let police in uniforms march, dividing the community and destroying the pride parade.

So when questioned about how it is I can stand with the Tamakis, let that sit as my answer.

Everything has to start somewhere. On Saturday night, it did. As Karen Carpenter famously sang, "We've only just begun".