Brian Tamaki’s iwi is criticising his involvement in a freedom group which it claims is putting people’s lives at risk and encouraging Maori communities to undermine the science.
Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Hikairo has raised concern about the recent outdoor gatherings and marches it says are run by Tāmaki and Destiny Church and involved a large number of unmasked supporters who went with their babies and tāmariki.
On Tuesday, Wellington CBD came to a standstill as thousands of protesters descended on Parliament to challenge the Covid restrictions.
There have also been a number of rallies, organised by the Freedoms and Rights Coalition, held around the country including in Auckland and Hamilton over the past few months.
But the Rūnanganui is calling on Tāmaki to take a “whānau first” approach and tell his supporters to do everything they can to stem the pandemic.
“We all have the right to safety, and the right to life! If they object to measures that protect other people’s lives, in our view they are not fighting for justice or freedom,” Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Hikairo chairwoman Susan Turner said.
“We have a responsibility to ask our people to do everything we can to protect one another.”
The Rūnanganui supported vaccines and “dot” passports as a way of managing the pandemic.
The fight against Covid had been a collective one and it was not justice or freedom, to
pull apart the systems that have saved lives, she said.
Ngāti Hikairo was particularly concerned about Tamaki’s stance given its homeland around Kāwhia and Te Awamutu was on the verge of a major outbreak.
Tamaki and his wife Hannah have previously stated they are not anti-vaccine, but are instead pro-choice.
Tamaki was charged last month with failing to comply with an order under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act and Alert Level 3 Order by co-organising a lockdown protest in Auckland.
He later appeared in court over breaching bail conditions.
Hannah Tamaki took to social media supporting those standing up for freedom and choice at Tuesday’s protest saying she was proud of them.
Destiny Church has been approached for comment.
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