Brian Tamaki claims to have escaped charges after second protest, police say investigation ongoing

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki claims police aren't charging him with breaching his bail conditions after visiting the Auckland Domain on Saturday as thousands protested the COVID-19 restrictions.

He and his wife Hannah Tamaki live-streamed themselves on Facebook on Tuesday morning visiting the Auckland Central police station. They claimed Brian had been asked to attend the station to be charged with breaching his bail conditions, but when they arrived were told the Crown had "intervened" and he could go home.

However, police say their investigation is ongoing.

It comes after a gathering of about 2000 people at the Auckland Domain on Saturday that police say was a "significant breach" of the COVID-19 alert level restrictions. Following the rally, police confirmed they would take prosecution action against "a number of individual organisers in the coming days". No charges have since been publicly announced.

Brian was at the Domain on Saturday, but claims to have stayed with his family away from other attendees. He said he did not organise the rally, but did speak at the event. 

The pastor is currently facing charges for organising and attending a gathering in breach of the rules earlier in October. Conditions for being granted bail on those charges is that he can't attend or organise any other protests in breach of the requirements. He has plead not guilty and maintains the first protest was permitted under the rules. 

Speaking on Facebook while travelling to the Auckland police station, the Tamakis claimed they had been told Brian was in breach because he had mingled with others in the crowd, something they deny.

"When they said he had breached by going through the crowd after his speech shaking his hands, I think many of you could see, we had security around us because we were stopping all of the people who wanted to come and say hello and hug and shake hands, we were stopping them," Hannah said.

Hannah, who unsuccessfully ran for Parliament at last year's election, said some at the protest had been "rude" to the couple's security, who she says were "trying to protect us". 

Brian told the Facebook Live audience that he had to stick to the rules at the event. 

"That's why they stuck me in a chair, masked me up, I was limited in what I could say as well so it was a very horrible situation," he said.

He claimed police were going to arrest him on Monday but they agreed he could visit the police station instead. He said he was calm about going to prison. 

"They are going to charge me with breaching… I am very confident. I am happy. If I go into a cell, I will etch my name on it and will put that 'freedom reigns'. I will be back in famous words."

However, later in the livestream, Brian said he didn't think he would go to prison and that he was "going to get through this". 

After being told he could go home, the pastor said he believed he wasn't being imprisoned as that would upset his followers. 

"The lawyers are still going through the evidence on the Saturday."

Under the alert level 3, stage one rules, up to 10 people can gather outdoors as long as they are from just two households.

Superintendent Shanan Gray, the relieving Auckland City District Commander, said on Saturday that the event was in breach of the rules. 

"While those in attendance generally conducted themselves in a calm manner and adhered to rules around mask-wearing and distancing between smaller separate bubbles, the gathering was by its very nature a significant breach of COVID-19 alert level 3 requirements.

"No arrests were made today however Police confirm that they will be taking prosecution action against a number of individual organisers in the coming days. Police will provide updates when available."

The maximum penalty for breaching the COVID-19 order is six months in prison or a fine not exceeding $4000.