Rotorua Destiny Church members have praised the announcement their church will be building a "City of God" in south Auckland.

Bishop Brian Tamaki revealed the plans at the annual Destiny Church Conference in Rotorua at the weekend.

Destiny plans to buy up a large block of land to expand the "City of God" beyond the new site in south Auckland. On Saturday night Tamaki unveiled plans for a three-storey, modern complex sprawling over 4ha. The site will include a massive ground floor church auditorium, recording studios, and a performing arts and science centre.

A model showed the complex would house a boxing gym, bookshop, atrium, cafe, early childhood centre, three schools and a university as well as a library. The church would fund the development itself.


Tamaki said the church needed "people power, economic power and generational power".

Rotorua councillor Janet Wepa, who has been a member of Destiny Church for 17 years, said the revelation was undoubtedly the highlight of the conference and hugely exciting.

On reports that Tamaki had exhorted the Destiny Church followers to leave behind houses, jobs - even family members - to join him at the "City of God", Mrs Wepa said that was not what she understood was said. She said church followers were not forced to do anything and would have the choice to decide their contribution.

"I get a bit cross when we get called a cult. There is no coercion, no one makes you stay and lots of people come and they go. They have choice."

Former Rotorua resident and Destiny spokeswoman Janine Cardno said they were all very excited about the move.

"We've outgrown where we are and the move to South Auckland will be ideal. It is our ministry area and it will allow us to continue all of our good work. This weekend is all about that."

The Destiny spokeswoman claimed the church didn't yet know how much the new buildings would cost.

Tamaki has said it could cost tens of millions of dollars, with most of the money coming from donations.