Brian Tamaki at a protest in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King
Brian Tamaki at a protest in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

PoliticsMay 13, 2023

Brian Tamaki declares run for parliament, Newshub pulls plug on interview

Brian Tamaki at a protest in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King
Brian Tamaki at a protest in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The self-acclaimed ‘apostle’ revealed he will run for parliament as leader of Freedoms NZ alongside Sue Grey. Earlier in the day, Newshub Nation dumped a studio appearance after Tamaki reneged on commitments.  

Despite repeatedly insisting that he is not interested in standing for parliament, Brian Tamaki has announced that he will be co-leader of Freedoms NZ, the party born out of the parliamentary occupation. The leadership will be shared, he revealed, with Sue Grey, the lawyer and co-leader of the Outdoors and Freedom Party, which is joining the umbrella group to contest the election in October. 

Tamaki and Grey have routinely shared disinformation and conspiracy theories, with both becoming leading figures in the anti-vaccine, anti-mandate movement that culminated in the occupation of the grounds of parliament last year. 

When Tamaki, who also founded Destiny Church and the Freedoms and Rights Coalition, announced the formation of the party after a mock trial on the steps of parliament last Auckland, he stressed that he would not be personally on the ballot. At another rally, he said: “I’m not standing, by the way. That’s the last place I want to go. I’d have to turn into a deceiver, a liar and a crook.” 

Today, however, he announced he had changed his tune. “I will be standing to go to parliament and I’m standing today as the leader of the umbrella party,” he told supporters in Auckland. He had not wanted to seek election, but, “the country is in such a sad, sorry state, that I believe the people in Wellington right now are incapable of getting us out of this mess … Leadership is the biggest problem today, and leadership is the solution … No amount of policies is going to change this country.” He said: “Say what you want, but it aint a Brian Tamaki show. In fact I’ve been very pleased with myself that I’ve made so many concessions.”

Brian Tamaki announces himself as co-leader of Freedoms NZ. Image: Screengrab

In March, as revealed by The Spinoff, Tamaki said that the deadly, devastating floods of Cyclone Gabrielle were invited by a “moral depravity and degradation”, including high levels of pornography consumption in the worst hit areas. He told his Destiny Church parishioners that he had twigged to this after visiting the website Pornhub.

Earlier today, Tamaki was expected to appear on Newshub Nation, but the interview was pulled at the last minute. Freedoms NZ representatives, who approached producers some weeks ago eager to make an announcement on the programme, had agreed to standard requirements that they divulge the nature of the announcements they intended to make on the show. It was considered even more critical given Tamaki’s record of spreading disinformation. 

When Tamaki’s team reneged on the undertaking, producers dropped the interview. Tamaki arrived in the Newshub car park around 9am, with an aide learning at reception that it was not going ahead.

On the programme, host Rebecca Wright told viewers: “We were expecting to have Bishop Brian on the programme today but we couldn’t agree on the terms of that interview.”

Introducing Tamaki later in the morning, Jenny Marshall of Freedoms NZ said: “We had Newshub Nation all lined up for an interview and they pulled the plug on us because we would not tell them who the new parties were going to be that we were going to announce today, because we needed to wait for the parties to square everything off with their own boards.”

In the presentation, Tamaki took aim at the “death grip” of the two major parties and a “sick parliament”, saying, “Our parliament needs a huge disruption.” He referred repeatedly to the shortcomings of the National leader, “Chris Luxton” (sic). Other targets included Ashley Bloomfield, the bureaucracy, and the media, “telling lies about me and you”. 

Grey, who has been described as having “rock star status” in conspiracy groups, told today’s meeting: “They call us names but actually we’re the outliers, we’re the ones with the guts to stand up and do what needs to be done.”

Brian Tamaki and Sue Grey at the presentation today. Image: Screengrab

Speaking at the August protest in Wellington, Tamaki indicated that the Outdoors and Freedom Party would be joining his alliance, but that was swiftly shot down by the party president, Alan Simmons. He told Stuff: “A lot of members are actually upset … We have actually had a few members resign today, thinking that we are in the coalition … I am a little bit worried that we could end up being labelled a totally freedom nutter party, which we seem to be getting labelled. But I am not sure what the Tamaki party stands for.”

The Outdoors Party was founded with in 2015 promising to promote “outdoors heritage”, but quickly became absorbed in opposition to 1080, 5G technology, Covid mandates and lockdowns. In response to protests outside Government House calling for the dissolution of parliament, a party spokesperson said: “Why would we want to dissolve parliament when they will just elect another lot from the psychopathic death cult? We need to get rid of the corporation.”

Outdoors and Freedom won about 0.1% of the party vote in the 2020 election, around the same results as another party now part of the umbrella group, Vision NZ, which is led by Tamaki’s wife, Hannah. Advance NZ, the anti-vaccine party led by Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika, now deregistered, won 1% in 2020.

In the Tauranga byelection in June last year, Grey won 4.7% of the vote, with Andrew Hollis of the New Nation Party, another of the Freedoms NZ umbrella group, won 1.3%.

Tamaki revealed the umbrella party would also be joined by the unregistered parties Rock the Vote, which contested the local elections, and a group called “Yes Aotearoa New Zealand”. Freedoms NZ was announced formally registered with the Electoral Commission in February.

Keep going!