Destiny denies plans for 'walled city'

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Destiny Church is calling on members to help build a big complex in South Auckland but denies it plans to create a self-sufficient "walled city".

News of the shift follows claims that Destiny asked members last Sunday to sell their homes and donate the proceeds to the complex, which would include a new church, three schools and a medical centre.

"It would be completely self-contained," one church member, who did not want to be named, said.

The head of the church, the self-styled Bishop Brian Tamaki, told members attending "A Decade of Destiny" conference during Labour weekend that the complex would give the church a big presence in the centre of Auckland.

"We have signed virtually for 10 acres with the possibility of another five if we want it and another five acres when we need it, which gives us 20 acres right in the heart of our largest city in our nation," Mr Tamaki said.

The complex's schools would mean Destiny members could opt to remove their children from mainstream schooling.

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"Every child of every member of this church will never have to go to a state school again. You shift [house] for a pay rise of an extra three dollars at the supermarket or a job transfer, would you shift for the purpose of God ..." Mr Tamaki asked the conference.

Family trees had been drawn up and a time frame set for luring each branch to the walled city, the member said.

Church spokeswoman Janine Cardno said Destiny had made a conditional offer on a four-hectare (10 acre) property in central Manukau. But members had not been asked to sell their homes to pay for it, only make a donation toward it.

Those who felt it was their "gift" to help others were urged to move to South Auckland and work for one of the ministries at the new complex once it was completed.

The ministries worked mainly with "gangs, violence and addictions", Ms Cardno said.

Though that could mean selling up for many members, they would not be able to live at the complex. "That would be a commune kind of thing and that is not us."

The land was zoned for commercial use and was too small to include housing, she said. With up to 1500 Auckland members, a big building and parking area was needed for its Sunday gatherings.

It also had to accommodate its existing preschool and primary school, as well as a new secondary school planned for next year.

The church would know by November 10 if its offer on the land had been accepted.

The Dominion Post