A budgeting service says Destiny Church members could be pressured to part with their much needed welfare money to pay for the church's planned complex at South Auckland - despite their Bishop's seemingly extravagant lifestyle.
Brian Tamaki announced at Destiny Church's New Year's Eve "MegaService" in Rotorua that the church had gained consent to build schools, a university and a massive auditorium in Wiri.
The self-appointed Bishop called for his congregation's help in paying for the facility.
Mangere Budgeting Service chief executive Darryl Evans said clients often felt pressured to pay up when an appeal is put out for extra money to fund specific church projects.
"Once those church leaders put these messages out we do have families who go and take out loans.
"They will go to family or take out a personal loan just so they can put $1000 into the church."
Evans said a number of their clients tithe $50-$100 a week to the Destiny Church already - a figure he believes is excessive on a beneficiary budget.
At least one member is known to pay a third of her income to the church.
Evans said Destiny was not the only South Auckland church to pressure members into tithing - he estimated 99 per cent of his clients regularly donate to their church - but he said Tamaki's extravagant display of wealth does make him feel particularly uncomfortable.
"It appears to me, and I don't know him personally, but it appears he lives a very opulent lifestyle."
He said many people who turned up for food parcels on Monday have donated generously to the collection plate the previous day at church.
Tamaki reportedly earns a six-figure salary as head of Destiny Church.
This week he told One News the cost of the complex would be in the "tens of millions".
"Over time it's going to be serious cash and that all comes from those who believe it, and have walked this journey, and see the benefits from their children and grandchildren."
He suggested the Government should also cough up for his planned complex.
"I'd rather see a church build bigger churches, they're far more positive than our prisons and that's where most of our whanau are," he said.
Destiny Church received $860,000 of Government funding for community programmes in the last financial year.
According to plans submitted to Auckland Council, the church complex will be built in an existing warehouse on the property and will include a gym, hairdressers and administration offices in addition to educational and religious facilities.
The church will move to the Druces Rd premises, valued at $7.65 million, in December, and reportedly has the option of buying the property once it sells its Mt Wellington headquarters.
Destiny Church was not able to be reached for comment.
- Auckland Now