Hannah Tamaki (image: Newshub)
Hannah Tamaki (image: Newshub)

OPINIONPop CultureFebruary 23, 2020

Hannah Tamaki can’t dance away from her past

Hannah Tamaki (image: Newshub)
Hannah Tamaki (image: Newshub)

News broke today that Hannah Tamaki is rumoured to have been cast for the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. Emily Writes explains why the religious leader and aspirant politician has no place on the show.

Update, 25 February, 4.30pm: Mediaworks has announced that Hannah Tamaki has been dropped from the new season of Dancing with the Stars

“Our announcement for this year’s Dancing with the Stars cast is scheduled for the end of March,” a spokesperson said, “however we are taking the unusual step to confirm Hannah Tamaki will not be part of that lineup. It was originally planned for Hannah to take part in the show. We now recognise this was a mistake and we apologise.

“We have seen a very strong reaction, some of which has been extreme and concerning and MediaWorks does not condone bullying. We would be failing in our duty of care to everyone if we continued as planned. We will be reviewing our decision making processes to make sure we get it right in the future.”


In an exceptionally sad display of desperation, MediaWorks appears to have booked Hannah Tamaki, known for her bigotry and megachurch, for the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. It is my sincere hope that it’s all BS and nobody at MediaWorks was so colossally hideous to book someone openly xenophobic, anti-Muslim, homophobic and transphobic.

The Spinoff has approached MediaWorks for comment, with a spokesperson saying “yes there will once again be 12 celebrities getting on the dance floor in the name of charity. But we won’t be naming them until much closer to when Dancing with the Stars goes to air”. That said, Spy is standing by its story and that statement is by no means a denial. So it seems that someone there is so out of touch with public sentiment and human decency that they just decided Hannah Tamaki would be good TV. Here are some reasons why this is an absolutely morally bankrupt decision.

MediaWorks will be providing free publicity for a political party that spreads hate speech

Wow! They won’t have to spend a cent of the hoarded wealth they’ve gathered from scamming vulnerable communities to spread their message of *checks notes* banning “new mosques, temples, and other foreign buildings of worship” if elected. At a time when the nation was horrified by the mosque shooting in Christchurch, Brian Tamaki objected to the call to prayer. As the world applauded New Zealand’s response to the shooting, Destiny goons stood outside mosques intimidating Muslims.

MediaWorks will be providing a platform for chill ideas like gays causing natural disasters

According to the Tamakis, the Christchurch quakes that killed 185 people were caused by gay people. The government not giving Brian money was the equivalent of gang raping him. And that he’s sexually attractive.

Ads by the Tamaki cult on Facebook have been removed for violating community standards. Yes. Facebook, not exactly known for having strong community standards, decided the Tamakis couldn’t use their platform for their ads. Yet MediaWorks is considering welcoming them with open arms. OK. Way to read the room in 2020.

MediaWorks will be supporting extremely questionable charities

The Man Up programme, a domestic violence programme by the Tamakis, has been well-covered in other media. They have sought government funding for this programme for some time, with corrections minister Kelvin Davis telling Newsroom that “Destiny Church had enough money, and if it wanted to make a difference it should use that money to help people in the community, and did not need the government’s blessing to do so”. Evidentially MediaWorks seems to want to help anyway.

Stuff revealed a man broke his partner’s jaw the same day he graduated from the programme. The survivor “immediately launched separation proceedings, but he later used the Man Up certificate in court as evidence of his good character”. Stuff also revealed a Man Up facilitator was stood down for directly messaging a domestic violence survivor and telling her it was her fault if she provoked her partner. So would it be OK if Hannah picks a charity like Man Up? A charity Women’s Refuge chief Ang Jury has publicly stated is dangerous?

Read more: The fascinating case of Hannah Tamaki vs the Māori Women’s Welfare League

MediaWorks will be ensuring a spot at the next corporate Pride Parade by making sure the homophobic and transphobic comments get still more air time.

In 2015 Brian Tamaki claimed “gay power” was taking over the world and that a whole generation of children will be bisexual because the “perversion of homosexuality is leading the charge”. If only.

My first interaction with Destiny Church was in Tauranga leading up to the civil union bill. I challenged their protest with a sign that said “Love isn’t a family value” and in return their parishioners encouraged their children to scream “dyke” at me and then laughed when their kids picked up dog shit and threw it at us. They followed this up with their ‘Enough is Enough’ march in 2004. Dressed in Black and Red they screamed Enough is Enough at anyone they deemed gay. It was a great message to young queers already facing high rates of suicide in New Zealand. The message was clear as day: You are hated. HATED. Good old family entertainment eh MediaWorks!

Despite all of this, Hannah Tamaki and her husband, who called people upset by Israel Folau’s homophobic comments “Cry Baby Gays”, say they have gay friends. Which is as grim as it sounds. A month later they issued an “apology” to the rainbow community along the lines of sorry you were offended.

MediaWorks will be dragging all their actual talent into this mess

MediaWorks is New Zealand’s largest independent broadcaster, spanning TV, radio and digital properties. They have chosen to use this platform to push the Tamakis into our homes. And look, I would never say a woman should have to be responsible for the words of her husband, but Hannah Tamaki and Brian Tamaki have a business together. Their business – Destiny Church – is a joint business. She is present whenever he spews his hate, and she’s often his mouthpiece. They’re interchangeable and attempts to paint them any other way are incredibly disingenuous.

When Mediaworks and Mediaworks employees rightly champion diversity and inclusion and put slogans like “They are us” and “This isn’t us” and “Love is Love” and hashtag Happy Pride on their social accounts they’re taking a stand. The casting decision impacts all who work there, all who have worked to make those slogans mean something within their organisation and to their audience.

Ultimately this will be a test of what MediaWorks stands for. Let’s hope they don’t get found wanting. I still hope this is just an absurd rumour and any minute now there will be a statement saying it’s all bunk. In 2020, this can’t possibly be a possibility. Right?

This story has been updated to include comment from MediaWorks

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