Brian Tamaki appearance prompts school to review hiring policy
A Christchurch school plans to review its hiring policies after leasing its auditorium to a controversial preacher accused of hate speech.
Self-styled bishop and Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki is speaking at Haeata Community Campus, in Aranui, at 7pm on Monday.
His appearance has attracted widespread attention after a protest event, dubbed the "Queer Quake Mardi Gras", was organised by activist Josie Butler.
Tamaki was widely condemned after comments he made in a sermon last year blaming earthquakes on "gays, sinners and murderers".
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Haeata board of trustees chairwoman Cheryl Doig said in light of the situation, the board would review what groups could hire school facilities.
"It's a really important ethical discussion and one I'm pleased has been highlighted because I think all schools need to have that conversation," she said.
"We have a fair and just society and a school that's diverse, and that's what we'd be expecting to take into account for any future hiring."
Asked if she thought gay students at Haeata would be comfortable with Tamaki appearing at their school – albeit at a private event -– Doig said "probably not".
"We've worked really hard to make sure all students regardless of their gender, sexuality, race etc are supported," she said.
"From a personal point of view, I am not supportive of anyone that isn't supportive of all members of the community, and who puts across messages that may inflame or divide our community."
School principal Andy Kai Fong said the school hired its facilities to a range of community groups, including Destiny Church on at least one previous occasion.
However, he was not certain whether the school had been aware Tamaki would be speaking when the auditorium was hired out.
"We had no issue last time so we would have just 'yes, it's available', and 'yes, you can use it'," he said.
Kai Fong was unable to say how much Destiny Church would have paid to hire the venue, adding it would not have been an "enormous amount".
The issue of what groups could hire school facilities would be discussed at the next board of trustees meeting, he said.
The school initially gave approval for the "Queer Quake Mardi Gras" event to be held on its grounds, but backtracked after realising how many people planned to attend.
Kai Fong said the decision to revoke approval was made after discussions with the Ministry of Education and the board of trustees.
"From a ministry point of view and a board point of view, we can't have it on site because we can't control it," he said.
Butler said the protest event would instead take place on the street outside the school.
- The Press