Brian Tamaki says he will be holding a church service this Sunday, despite restrictions on gatherings under alert Level 2.
Previously gatherings in Level 2 had been limited to 100 people but Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the limit would be capped at 10, including for weddings, religious events, funerals and tangi.
The Destiny Church leader says a church meets “essential spiritual needs” and that the Government is violating the churches rights under the New Zealand Bill of Rights by not allowing them to operate services.
“New Zealand seems to have overly controlling parents as politicians, compared to other countries.
“Our rights as churches under The New Zealand Bill of Rights are being violated, particularly section 15 regarding the freedom to manifest religion or belief in worship, observance practice and teaching either publicly or privately.”
Mr Tamaki said in a statement yesterday that Destiny Church would be holding a service this Sunday and has encouraged other churches to follow suit.
“We have up until this point been responsible in all requirements outlined by the Ministry of Health.
“We will now invite all our members to be tested in the next few days and will be holding our church service this Sunday on site on our Premises. I invite all churches in New Zealand to act according to your rights (see the NZ Bill of Rights) and to not allow this government to treat us as non-essential or as an afterthought at the bottom of the heap.”
Under Level 2 cinemas, bars, restaurants and shops can operate, but the Prime Minister said Monday people would have to be socially distanced and spaced out.
Ms Ardern said the gathering limit has been capped at 10 because its "much easier to contain" and "much easier to contact trace".
National's Simon Bridges is pushing for that limit to change, and said this morning the two or three big things for him are funerals, tangihanga and places of worship.
Mr Bridges said it was "inhumane" that some family members would not be able to attend funerals or tangi.