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Destiny Church to rally at Parliament for access to prisons to target Māori with Man Up programme

A campaign to make a self-improvement programme created by controversial Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki widely available in prisons will launch today with a motorcycle rally in Wellington that will end on the steps of Parliament.

Current Justice Minister Andrew Little and former National Justice Minister Judith Collins are expected to meet with the crowd.

The Man Up programme consists of about 400 free support groups, and there's no reason it shouldn't be in prisons where it's needed most, programme director Caine Warren told TVNZ 1's Breakfast this morning. But instead, he and Mr Tamaki allege the Government has stymied them.

"We've definitely got a proven track record of changing men's lives - particularly [those who've] had challenging backgrounds around addictions, multiple times of being incarcerated," he said. "And I think Man Up is definitely a programme that can assist and help reduce the amount of reoffending."

Thousands of people clad in black “Man Up” tee shirts have joined the march. Source: 1 NEWS

Today's rally - which will also include a stop at the Waitangi office, where Mr Tamaki will file a Treaty claim - comes nearly six months after a fiery Facebook video by Mr Tamaki in which he lambasted the Government for perpetuating a failing prison system.

"I'm pretty much disappointed, disgusted and ashamed at the way that our Government has been handling the present prison situation," he said.

"The numbers of prisoners that are incarcerated, the problems with having to spend so much taxpayers' money on building bigger prisons and now adding beds and so forth, it just goes on and on and on.

"We are offering to do something without any cost to the taxpayer, we're totally self-funded. We're having the most success of any rehabilitation programme and prevention that I know of."

But Mr Tamaki's own controversial views, including his stance on homosexuality, has helped sow distrust of the endeavour.

Mr Warren has previously said those views are a distraction.

Paul Foster-Bell has never talked about his sexuality publicly, but after Tamaki's outburst he felt "furious" and compelled to speak out. Source: Q+A

"They're welcome because there's no judgement," Mr Warren told Breakfast today, explaining that there are already gay and lesbian people in the support groups. "For us, it's you're loved and you're not judged. You're supported, you're encouraged, you're uplifted.

"It's the type of environment that prisoners need - everybody needs if they're looking to overcome some of the issues of their lives."

One also doesn't need to be Christian to be involved, he said, although the programme doesn't shy away from religion.

"Man Up was started and birthed out of Destiny Church in Auckland, but it's now spread to ... different parts of our society," he said, explaining that support groups meet at marae and rugby league clubs, too. "Separating faith, separating the belief of God out of a programme, particularly with Māori, is not healthy for us.

The Northland man admits he abused his wife, but is now speaking out against family violence to support White Ribbon day. Source: 1 NEWS

"We believe in God and we do enjoy having that faith-based element to the programme. But it's also the tools these men are picking up on how to be better fathers, better partners, sharing in an environment where they understand each other's backgrounds.

"And I think that's the key thing: You've got men who've been where other men have been."

Caine Warren tells Breakfast that the self-improvement groups already have gay and transgender members, despite church leader Brian Tamaki’s controversial views. Source: Breakfast