Police are looking into whether Brian Tamaki breached his bail conditions today at the Auckland Domain protest - but the Destiny Church leader's lawyer says he hopes he is not arrested for complying with the law.
Tamaki spoke in front of thousands of people today at the fourth anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine mandate protest in the Domain since the beginning of October.
It was a surprise when Tamaki took the stage to address the crowd over the loudspeaker around 12.30pm after he missed the last October 30 protest over concerns around his bail conditions.
Tamaki was charged with violating a Covid-19 lockdown order for attending and allegedly helping organise the first two Domain protests on October 2 and 16.
However, Auckland District Court Judge Josephine Bouchier told Tamaki via an audio-video on October 20 that he could be released on bail provided he does not "organise or attend any protests in breach of any Covid-19 level requirement".
Another condition was that he didn't use the internet to encourage non-compliance with the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020".
Prior to announcing Tamaki to the stage, his wife Hannah said with a laugh they have been in contact with their lawyer Ron Mansfield QC every day concerning their legal issues stemming from the Domain protests.
Mansfield told the Herald this afternoon that he expects Tamaki was compliant with his bail conditions around the Covid-19 Public Health Act.
"The conditions are not intended to prevent him taking part in a lawful protest. Whether others agree with the protest or not - a protest is not an unlawful activity," Mansfield said.
"The conditions are to prevent him from being or encouraging non-compliance with Covid requirements. I need to say he has denied ever doing that.
Mansfield conceded "obviously I am not there" but said Tamaki had instructed him that he had not sought to be: "defiant as some have claimed or to breach the law, let alone his bail conditions".
"He [Tamaki] has just sought to express his views on government policy, like many have, whether they are for or against [them]."
Police said in a statement they "will be following up and looking into whether there are any breaches with regard to today's activities" at the Domain when asked about Tamaki breaching his bail.
Mansfield said Tamaki is not responsible for other protesters today at the Domain who may have been non-compliant with the Covid-19 Public Health Act.
"I am not aware of him encouraging non-compliance and I trust he hasn't today. Protests can occur in compliance with current requirements. I doubt the police will suggest otherwise," Mansfield said.
The Auckland-based criminal defence lawyer said "I hope he is not arrested for complying with the law" when asked if Tamaki might be arrested for simply attending the protest.
"I think anyone would be offended by that, including those enforcing our laws," Mansfield said.
"The right to protest remains important to most New Zealanders whether we agree with that person's views or not. We are unlikely to always agree with the views of others on everything. But we need to remember that much positive change, change we now take for granted, has come from people standing up for what they think is right.
"While we are rightly worried about keeping everyone safe, as I think we should be, we have to watch that we don't lose the rights we have fought hard to protect: the freedom of expression."
Tamaki's speech today
The Destiny Church founder and his wife Hannah took to the stage after midday. The Domain rally itself started at 11am and finished just after 1pm with up to 2000 people in attendance.
"I'm standing on the right to protest," said Brian Tamaki.
He referred to New Zealand as "Jacindaland" before denouncing Covid restrictions and vaccine mandates.
Tamaki said: "I am not a citizen of Jacinda's New Zealand. I refuse to be a part of the New Zealand she is creating.
"I don't really want to be in the news. I'm tired of it after 30 years ... I hate it," Tamaki said.
He has already appeared in court twice since early October. The first appearance was on charges for organising a rally on October 2, allegedly in breach of Covid restrictions - he has pleaded not guilty.
Tamaki, who left the protest shortly after speaking, told the crowd today that everyone had a right to challenge those we voted into power.
He said he did not hate Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and if there were to be a meeting between the pair he would greet her and hug her.
Calling himself a normal guy, Tamaki appealed for people to quit attacking him on Facebook. He claimed he was not rolling in cash but "just making it".
He was also facing having to close his church down.
The whole political system needed reform he said: "We keep getting effed over."
Describing himself as a media lightning rod, Tamaki said it was necessary to have a very loud voice to address some very serious problems in New Zealand.
"I would rather live in dangerous freedom than live in peaceful slavery," Tamaki told the crowd as he wound up his address.