Hannah Tamaki to lead new political party Coalition New Zealand

Hannah Tamaki, the wife of Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki, will lead a new political party called Coalition New Zealand.

It follows months of speculation, with Newshub revealing in February that Brian was considering starting a new party, but not with himself as leader. On Tuesday, Newshub confirmed the party could be announced next week.

But on Wednesday, that announcement was moved forward, with Brian saying he was launching a political party on Thursday in response to an "escalating tide of poor decision-making".

"Politics is not a game, nor is it a popularity contest. The fate of our children and our children's children are hugely important, and deserve all possible due consideration," a spokesperson said.

On Thursday, Hannah was announced as the leader of the party, saying it is not a party just for Christians but for everyone who feels frustrated with the current Government.

Brian promised the party would be a "vehicle" for the "silent majority" to express their beliefs.

"Our Kiwi way of life is in danger, our freedom, our values, our cultures, as a people, as we knew it, as New Zealanders living here, has been in danger because of the harmful policies that have been coming from this Government," he told reporters.

He said he had yet to decide if he will stand for a seat but would support his wife leading a party that he said would reflect "politics with teeth".

Hannah Tamaki.
Hannah Tamaki. Photo credit: Newshub.

Hannah wouldn't go into details about what electorate seats the party would target or who would stand in them. But she did say they would be focussing on both the five percent threshold and winning a seat.

She said the party wasn't looking for a "seat accomodation" or a "backroom deal".

She also reached out to National MP Alfred Ngaro, who has been actively considering starting a christian party. She said she was keen to have a conversation with him.

"I do not know you. You seem like a reasonable man looking for somewhere to call home. I imagine you and I may have different views, but overall I suspect there are a number of things we can agree with and have in common," she said.

"It is that reasons that I give you Alfred an opportunity to come and sit with me."

The party would not be funded by the church, but by membership.

Before the announcement, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she wouldn't engage in discussion in over whether there could ever be a coalition with the party.

"That is a huge hypothetical. This is a party that has just been announced."

She said the right to start political parties was an important part of a democracy.

"We obviously have an open democracy in New Zealand."

Key concerns

Taking up the role, the new leader said she would draw from her 40 years working with people.

"I stand here as a Māori woman and a Christian. I stand here as a wife of 39 years, with 40 years of experience helping thousands of New Zealanders through the ministry that I have built alongside my husband, Brian."

"Today, I stand here as an extremely concerned New Zealander." 

The potential of the legalisation of marijuana, euthanasia and late-term abortion worried her and were issues from the wider political climate that spurred on the decision to launch a new party.

"I am fed up with the level of censorship growing around the issues that face our nation. The persecution that comes with daring to have an opinion or view that does not fit the leftist agenda."

Child poverty reduction, housing and the level of Māori incarceration were also key concerns.

Hannah said she would like to see abortion made illegal in New Zealand as she is "pro-life".

Quizzed on her feelings on gay people, she said she had many gay family members that she supported.

Brian Tamaki.
Brian Tamaki. Photo credit: Newshub.

History in politics

It's not Brian's first foray into politics.

In 2003, Destiny Church members started the Destiny New Zealand political party with Brian as its "spiritual adviser". It gained less than one percent of the vote in the 2005 election and was subsequently deregistered. Further attempts to set up Christian parties turned acrimonious and failed.

History Professor Peter Lineham told Newshub that he expected the new party would likely garner a similar result and there was "little chance of that broad range of support" needed to get into Parliament.

Prof Lineham said the majority of Destiny Church's congregation was Maori and Pasifika, with a strong base in south Auckland, but he didn't believe Brian had much of a reach in other parts of New Zealand.

Brian may have also lost many of his traditional religious allies after making the decision in 2003 to get his church involved in politics.

"There was a serious difference of opinion with the Life Church," Prof Lineham told Newshub. Both churches are pentecostal.

Prof Lineham added that religious groups often consider entering politics during times where moral issues are at the fore. Issues like abortion and euthanasia are currently being debated by politicians.

Alfred Ngaro and Simon Bridges.
Alfred Ngaro and Simon Bridges. Photo credit: Getty / Newshub.

On Sunday, speaking about the potential for Ngaro starting a new Christian party, National leader Simon Bridges said the establishment of a new religious party is an "alluring idea".

Bridges said there's a gap in the market presently for a Christian conservative party, noting "interesting character" Colin Craig's Conservative Party managed to get 4 percent in 2014, and the Christian Coalition - led by convicted paedophile Graham Capill - got 4.33 percent in 1996.

Brian has courted controversy for much of the last two decades, but came under fire earlier this year for his tweets after his ManUp prison rehabilitation programme was shunned for Government funding.

Among his tweets, he criticised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis for "political gang-rape" and threatend revolts in prisons.

Newshub revealed last week that the latter tweet led to Department of Corrections staff being advised to be vigilant about escalated tension.

Brian also criticised Ardern for allowing the Muslim Call to Prayer to be broadcast in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attacks, as well as the urgent gun law reforms.