GUEST BLOG: Hone Harawira – Kelvin Davis: Time to Man Up


Five years ago, the Brian Tamaki inspired Man Up programme was born out of a desire from prison inmates themselves to seek positive change in their lives. Its reach and its success have grown in leaps and bounds since then.

Two years ago, when he was in Opposition, Kelvin Davis strongly condemned National’s policies on prisons and particularly their impact on Māori, and promised that if he became Minister of Corrections he would change the world!

Davis became Minister of Corrections in 2017, and changed nothing.

Meanwhile, Man Up continued to change the lives of some of our most hardened criminals.

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Last year Brian Tamaki led a delegation to parliament seeking financial support for Man Up, and

Davis’ response was to do nothing.

This year Tamaki came out stronger, saying Man Up deserved funding for doing what Corrections couldn’t, but this time the response was far nastier and far stronger.

This time, Prime Minister Jacinda Adern, Finance Minister Grant Robertson, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis all launched a series of well-coordinated and well-publicised nasty, personal and mean-spirited attacks on Tamaki, ridiculing his “self-appointment” as a Bishop, his wealth, his anti-gay comments, his public pronouncements on Christianity and Man Up’s gang imagery.

Not a word about the worth of Man Up, no evaluation of the programmes stunningly positive effect on Māori men in prisons, no examination of the changes to whānau outside prison, no comment on the reduction in recidivism of Man Up graduates, no consideration given to the millions of dollars being saved by keeping Māori men from reoffending, and being churned back through the judicial system.

No analysis of Man Up at all, just a vicious, offensive and disgusting governmental assault on a man who is making changes that society can only dream of.

I know, because I have seen these brothers change.

For a while I found it hard to reconcile the smiles and the hugs of the newly converted, with the scowls and the beatings dished out by the same brothers in a past life, but its’ real. It’s real because I have seen the changes for myself, it’s real because I talk to the wives who have blossomed in the new life afforded them through Legacy, it’s real because I see the kids happy to have a daddy who is a good man, it’s real because even some of the greatest sceptics, the police, are starting to have a grudging respect for men they hunted just a few years ago.

Man Up isn’t about Brian Tamaki’s clothing, or his wife’s car, or his personal philosophies, and it shouldn’t be judged on those things. I mean, the Catholic Church is internationally condemned for its paedophile priests but our government continues to fund their educational and social programmes.
Man Up is about changing the lives of men to help them become better members in our society, to reduce the offending and the violence, to improve the lives of families, reduce the pointless waste of government spending in a vicious cycle of blind stupidity.

Kelvin Davis – its time for you to Man Up. To set aside your own inability to make change. To park your ego at the door. To invite Brian Tamaki to the table. To consider what it is that Man Up can do. To consider whether there is indeed value in the programme. And then to fund it if it can help get Māori out of prisons and help keep them out.

That’s what Man Up does. It helps a man become a better man. Something we can all learn from.


Hone Harawira is the leader of the MANA Movement 


    • Not actually and Tamati didn’t even bother to apply by following normal processes. Government cant hand over funding for a program on someone’s say so without substantive proof to back it up. Woman’s refuge are very unimpressed with Tamati’s behaviour and the lack of evidence of his program.

      • Tamaki may bully his congregation in giving a percentage of their wages to “his” faith but to try to do so to a government is extremely naive. Like anyone applying for a government contract, numbers and evidence is paramount. The fact that a religious zealot makes personal attacks actually decries what he or she preaches. I would go as far to say if Tamaki truly believes in this and he truly believes his programme works, then like other businesses, fund it himself and cost out to the government on his successes.

        • really Bert churches have been taking money of their congregations for thousands of years Tamaki is no different to them. Just cause he speaks out and seems to have an answer for everything people dislike him but its not about those people its about our men sitting in prison wasting their lives and rotting while their children are fatherless.
          The state need to be careful judging people they have a bad track record for sexual abuse of prisoners and many of our boys put in homes for trivial things were sexually abused by those that were suppose to be caring for them.

          • The issue I have Michelle is that Tamaki appears to see himself differently than others. Other churches pass around a plate, not ask for a portion of your income. As for the rest of your opinion, I completely agree, I work in that area and there are a large number of appalling services sucking off the state, all claiming to be successful.

  1. How many of John Hatfield’s relatives have been sent to gaol for violence offences?

  2. Hardened criminal “ I’m all good now because I have found Jesus “……

  3. Well i think our government who i voted for need to stop being personal and grow up. Yes Tamaki is firing some strong words maybe a bit insensitive but so what i have heard far worse on our Marae. I think we should give him a chance some of our men are literally fucked they need help and it needs to be our men delivering a programme to our men not a women also men who have walked that path maybe very effective. Lets stop getting personal and end this war of words and think of the bigger picture.

    • its not about being personal although Tamaki is doing that, he didn’t even bother to apply by following normal processes. Government cant just hand over funding for a program on someone’s say so without substantive proof to back it up. Woman’s refuge are very unimpressed with Tamati’s behaviour and the lack of evidence of his program and the interview by the man up director on checkpoint didnt do that well either.

      • So go interview those men who were taken on board by Destiny and had their lives changed and that of their family’s, bud.

        Oh but you couldn’t give a shit about what they have to say of course.

          • Maybe that’s all to do with the subjective opinions of your quoted article.

            Howzat fit the narrative?

            See how this works here?

            Now , off you go , get some real world experience and go ask those men.

            • There is no need to be so patronizing. It is obvious that the quoted article came after Tamaki’s abusive remarks and that still doesn’t answer the question as to why Tamaki didn’t apply through the proper channels like every other organisation has to.

              • ‘Abusive remarks’…

                Oho… trigger words.

                Well I tell you what mate , the next time we read about male suicide in this country , – the next time we read about Maori incarceration statistics , and the next time we read about Maori crime stats – we can remember just what Ang Jury has to say about those as well.

                Or maybe its just the women who need nurturing in this country , eh?

                Or perhaps Tamaki has a good point but the Wokey Lefties just don’t want to admit it….

                Give over mate.

                You just don’t like the bold and brash style of Destiny and don’t want to have to deal with it because it challenges your bleeding heart political ideologies.

                You would be the same sort of hypocrite that would treat the working class with equal disdain if they raised their heads above the parapets and made an ‘unseemly’ unsightly scene, – basically the same sort of crass patronizing two faced neo liberal ilk that permeates the Labour party , – and to a lesser extent, – the Greens.

              • do we have proper channels now Louis ? do we have no nepotism? do we have shoulder tapping ?

      • well actually Louis it is about being personal and just by looking at kelvins face i can see he is taking offence when he shouldn’t. I heard a bit of the interview by the lady from the womens refuge she talked about the violent language not being suitable for the people wanting to deliver these programmes. Also its Tamaki not Tamati you might want to get that right first before you comment.

        • You dont think people should receive govt funding without at least applying and going through due process first, do you?
          I did spell his name correctly the first time, it was just human typing error the second time and I suggest you listen to the entire interview, where it is more than just about language, “The head of Women’s Refuge Ang Jury says she has seen no proof the Man Up programme works and has serious concerns about its use”

        • I think anyone would take offence at being told they politically gang raped, so yeah, kelvin was not the only one to take offence at that.

          • And um,… your suggesting that the words’ gang raped’ which is now popular vernacular in today’s millennial online gaming community is,… somehow offensive… a little bit like the word ‘ nigger’ was 40 years ago,… but which has become modern parlance as a term of endearment.

            And yes we know, we know… ‘gang raped’ is a repulsive term. But YOU and I both know it was not used in THAT CONTEXT.

            So I’d suggest you get off your high Woke Left horse and start to see the world from the perspectives of the NZ working class.

            Repulsive as it may be to your neo liberal middle class sensibility’s.

            Now um,… not to be insensitive here to a snowflake with an obvious agenda, … but I suggest you go and interview those men from Destiny who have had their lives and that of their family’s changed through the Man Up programs.

            You might be less inclined to quote from someone who’s also competing for the same govt funding that the Man Up program is competing for…

            Hmmmm ?

            • I think it is offensive if society deems it offensive to say certain words in public. Especially when some uses another cultures words and language out of context and the offender is being made painfully aware of how they’re screwing up.

              • Name it.

                Go ahead and name it .

                What you have presented is merely your interpretation of what motivates your prejudice.

                I’ve shown you the door when it comes to seeing that the same organisation that wants govt funding also competes with Destiny churches.

                I think that goes a long way to show where your allegiance lies.

                Tell me,… just what have you got against a church program that seeks to enable men and care for their family’s?

                Is it because they are too loud for your tastes?

                Upset the comfortable stereotypical Pakeha concept of Maori men as losers?

                And does it allude to a certain anti male affinity within the Woke Left?, – you know- that patriarchal male dominated mythical society that you all so dearly love to shit on?

  4. Would be good to see you, Kelvin, Brian and slushy Simon on a panel discussing the prison portfolio Hone, maybe Marae or Q+A.

  5. You’ve won me back again, Hone.

    I was annoyed at an article you wrote , but here I am giving you the accolades. It is all too easily forgotten the good what Destiny has done/ continues to do among Maori men and their family’s.

    Is this because Tamaki is Maori and because he is a Christian that he is bagged and sent up to be mocked?

    Because if it is, – that shows the blatant racism and selectivity in favouring one ‘religion’ over another in the Woke Left when the occasion suits.

    Moreover, it shows the opportunistic nature of the same to use Christian social services and reports submitted to parliament that shows the glaring hypocrisy’s , – yet when it suits , – ignore the good solutions that they produce. We saw all that and more under the John Key govt with the Salvation Army.

    We call this coalition out for practicing the same.

    I am not a Destiny church member, – and while they are outspoken and robust in their demonstration, – a good dose of Destiny church style pragmatism and passionate belief in their values would not go amiss among the so – called Woke Left of today – who have by and large shat all over the working classes of New Zealand since 1984.

    Contrast that with the passion that Michael Joseph Savage embodied with the Keynesian economy and a fair shake for all.

    And if I was asked to choose between Brian Tamaki and his Destiny church or the common garden neo liberal Woke Left hypocrite?

    It would be hands down Destiny church every time.

    • It doesn’t help that tamaki or his representatives went to Chch to make a point that nz is a Christian country in the wake of the Chch massacre. Arrogant and insensitive.

      I am deeply suspicious of non clinical people offering a rehabilitation programme in prisons, even if some claim benefits. Anyone remember Bert potter and centrepoint? Plenty of people at the time would have said its great and it turned my life around. Sound familiar.

  6. No one is saying this out loud but this is a class issue.

    People on the left hate Brian Tamaki with a vengeance for all sorts of reasons that we’re more than happy to tell you about – and there’s no doubt he provides plenty of reasons to dislike him – but what we’re not admitting to is that we don’t like him because he’s working class – as are the people who Man Up help.

    Racist/sexist/homophobic people have learned to hide their prejudice these days. Likewise, the white-collar class disguises its antipathy for the working class by bullying people for failing to use gender neutral pronouns and not understanding what “cis” means. That these same people are victims of an economic system designed to make their lives unliveable matters not a jot to us.

    To struggling families the idea of worrying about gender neutral language when they might be living in a car next week must seem absurd – and it is.

    And so are we.

    We’re not quite at the level of the British aristocracy yet but the parallels in terms of thinly-disguised hatred and lack of empathy toward working class people and the associated self-justification are certainly there.

    I still think Brian Tamaki is as mad as cut snake but he’s found a way to solve a problem that most of us didn’t know what to do with – if we ever really cared it in the first place.

    And based on our current behaviour we certainly don’t care about it enough to see past our our hatred.

      • And so because of one persons bias you presume to present that as fact?

        How about the personal testimony’s of the men themselves who found Destiny church a major life changing environment for them and their family’s?.

        Still waiting to hear back from the personal interviews you have conducted of those men by you.

        • It doesn’t help that tamaki or his representatives went to Chch to make a point that nz is a Christian country in the wake of the Chch massacre. Arrogant and insensitive.

          I am deeply suspicious of non clinical people offering a rehabilitation programme in prisons, even if some claim benefits. Anyone remember Bert potter and centrepoint? Plenty of people at the time would have said its great and it turned my life around. Sound familiar.

        • It doesn’t help that tamaki or his representatives went to Chch to make a point that nz is a Christian country in the wake of the Chch massacre. Arrogant and insensitive.

          I am deeply suspicious of non clinical people offering a rehabilitation programme in prisons, even if some claim benefits. Anyone remember Bert potter and centrepoint? Plenty of people at the time would have said its great and it turned my life around. Sound familiar.

        • Did you listen to the entire interview and the interview of the Man Up director? I didnt conduct personal interviews, Checkpoint did that.

        • I would say that Woman’s Refuge knows better than you do and the interview with the Man Up director didn’t allay concerns either.

    • Bloody good answer.

      Yes, I am not a particular fan of Tamaki’s,- but I will go into bat for him and his people. Especially when concerned and caparisoned with the Woke Left hypocrisy.

      Yes, he is brash and he is blunt and to the snowflakes , – he is rude.

      I don’t care.

      Harden up.

      If you cant take a Christians non violent message and see it for what it is and the world of good done behind the scenes politically and socially then you’ve got problems.

      You are a bonifide , prejudiced disgusting little snowflake.

      The next time your relatives need help from the Salvation Army or the Presbyterian social support networks , – recall what you’ve written here.

  7. Most crooks wanna avoid prison, Tamaki actually wants in! Yes I agree he should go to prison! The best place for a Nazi who has threatened the govt with war and prison riots.

    There are plenty of other great make violence organizations who with a bit of funding could do much better jobs and wouldnt have weoponized hatred against their fellow new Zealanders.

    He should absolutely be disqualified for his actions and his character.

    The man is literally a garbage fire! Literally. Also tax the church

    • Always a first time,… and its strange how history goes whereby former foes become united in opinion. I think of WW2 and the combatants between the Western Allies and Germany… old guys drinking a beer together in a pub and respectful friends. If only we were more like those old guys…

  8. Friggin awesome article.
    Regardless of one’s personal view of Tamaki, the proof of the pudding is in its eating, and if the ManUp programme really does improve the lives of people, it should be supported wholeheartedly by the government.

    One can condemn some of the actions of Tamaki, while at the same time supporting those of his ideas that are proven to do good.

    The fact is God, or at least belief in God, can have an amazing transformational impact on people who have gone off the rails- its been shown time and time again.

    The problem is we have leaders who have little if any spirituality, let alone a belief in God, and that means that they themselves become their own God – they are egocentric, and become like the Jacinda’s of the world: ‘look at me, I’m such a nice person, even though I have zero substance’

    Whereas Tamaki may say some wrong things etc, but in the end if his programme works, and it most likely does, then at least he gets the friggin job done. That’s more than can be said for the bunch of nonentities we currently have —who can’t plan, can’t implement and are just full of hot air —-how many houses been built yet?

  9. Of course if the government does not like the thought of Tamaki supposedly profiting from this enterprise, why don’t they come up, together with the mainstream churches a similar programme to Man Up?

    Oh, that’s right —–even the name ‘Man Up’ would freak them out, and the notions of taking responsibility, holding down a steady job, worshiping God, and hard work, are not the sort of virtues possessed by those currently in power. So instead they would prefer that a whole group of people be thrown on the trash-heap instead.

    • Red hot answer, – great stuff , – and that’s the plain and blunt simple truth.

      Its groups like Tamaki’s who go against the ‘weeping’ neo liberal agenda.

      And the Woke Left hate em for it!

  10. well I saw the men themselves that have been through the programme and i have whanau i want to go through that programme cause nothing else has worked these are whanau who have been fucked up by the state they have been molested an sexually abused while being incarcerated. Hope that’s not too strong a language for you Louis. Perhaps Brian might need a shoulder tap that was nationals policies and people like Susan Devoy had no qualifications but still got a 250 k job for five years. Why doesn’t someone be proactive and send him the forms. I know our womens refuge do good work but they don’t have all the answer either and saying someone is using bad words or language and therefore this makes them unsuitable to deliver the programme actually some of our people that is all they know they relate to this language. As for proof look at all the PI and Maori men and their whanau attending his churches surely that must be a good thing. We need to stand by our Maori men cause far too many are in prison and far too many have been disenfranchised.

  11. What do the the alleged beneficiaries say? ie the criminals who may or may not have had their lives turned around by Tamaki’s program. What is needed is an open mind to evaluate.And if it works, well anyone with a modicom of intelligence will be all for it, regardless of Tamaki’s views on religion or the LGBT community.Is the efficacy of everything really going to be judged on the persons commitment to LGBT rights? Are the LGBT community inherently more worthy than the incarcerated, who are basically in jail because of an inherently flawed and biased economic, justice,and penal system . Therein lies the prejudices and wilfull blindness of our neo liberal Blairite Govt !!!

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