Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki insists he hasn't breached his bail conditions after visiting a central Christchurch park on Saturday to speak at an anti-COVID vaccine mandate protest.
A police investigation is underway after Tamaki visited Hagley Park to speak at the protest. However, Tamaki claims it wasn't a protest - rather a "family funday picnic".
Tamaki appeared before the court three times last year. In November, he spoke at an anti-vaccine mandate protest in Auckland attended by more than 1000 people - despite the city being in alert level 3 and mass gatherings banned.
In October, he was charged with attending and organising a protest in breach of alert level 3 restrictions. He pleaded not guilty and was granted bail on the condition he didn't attend or organise any gathering in breach of the COVID-19 requirements.
Days later, Tamaki attended another event at Auckland Domain and was charged with breaching his bail conditions. He again pleaded not guilty and was given bail.
As well as not visiting the Auckland Domain, Tamaki's bail conditions state he's not allowed to organise, attend, support or speak at any protest gathering in breach of any current COVID-19 requirements.
Under the orange traffic light setting, there are no capacity limits on gatherings should COVID-19 vaccine passes be used. If passes are not used, gatherings are limited to 50 people "based on 1m physical distancing in a single defined space at the venue at any time".
Stuff reported the crowd at Saturday's event in Christchurch was well in excess of 50.
In a statement on Monday, Tamaki claims he's done nothing wrong by attending the Christchurch gathering.
"I genuinely care about all New Zealanders, I've dedicated my life's work to helping people, so of course, I was more than happy to help my friend out and meet and speak to these incredible southerners," Tamaki said.
He said he was simply sharing a "public message of hope".
Tamaki said he's "done my best" to obey COVID-19 restrictions.
"My current bail conditions state that I am prohibited from organising, attending, supporting or speaking at any protest in BREACH of COVID-19 requirements. Judges and the NZ Police have repeatedly affirmed that I have a right to protest, it just can't breach the current COVID-19 restrictions in place."
He claimed he's being "continually singled out, vilified, pursued and prosecuted like I am a criminal".
"I will not take this harassment lying down," Tamaki said. "I am fighting for our civil rights and I will continue to fight back with all my might and courage."
A police spokesman told Newshub it was investigating whether any breaches had occurred and couldn't comment further.
The maximum penalty for breaching the COVID-19 order is six months in prison or a fine not exceeding $4000.