• “Peaceful” protest planned for Drag Queen Rainbow storytime at Hastings Library

“Peaceful” protest planned for Drag Queen Rainbow storytime at Hastings Library

“Peaceful” protests are planned by local Destiny Church members at the Hastings Library tomorrow where Drag Queen Rainbow storytime sessions will be held .

Rainbow Storytime with Erika and CoCo Flash will take place tomorrow at Hastings Library, with two shows aimed at kids (10.30am and 3.30pm) and another 'Living Library' aimed at older teens and adults.

The Taranaki-based drag queen entertainers Coco (Sunita Torrance) and Erika Flash (Daniel Lockett) have previously brought their events to Hastings Library, in August 2020 and again in 2022, and read books such as Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae.

However, the same event in Rotorua was cancelled, with the local council citing security concerns amid "hostile dialogue" and "rapid spread of misinformation". It is understood that Hastings District Council officials are in discussion about whether to go ahead with the event.

The leader of Destiny Church Brian Tamaki has vowed to get the event shut down.

Local Destiny Church Pastor, Michael Ngahuka, who plans to lead the protests tomorrow, says he is opposing the sessions because “for me, it's quite simple. Drag queens and children don't go together”.

“They don't go together from my view because drag queens come from the adult entertainment industry, and so to see the news or see the postings or the advertisement of these drag queens coming to Hastings, actually quite a few towns. It's about our next generation and I don't want to see them being exposed to this behaviour or this lifestyle choice.”

Ngahuka, who is standing in the Hastings District Council by-election for the Takitimu Māori Ward, said he also did not believe the events should be held in a public library.

“I'm all for people and their own choices, and I believe in your own freedom of expression. By all means, in the safety of your own home or your own private life, do what you choose. But when it's a public forum, like example, a library where many other of the community, other people of the community are going to be exposed, then yes, that's also what I'm standing up for, as well.”

He did not believe there was an irony in Destiny Church, which says it believes in freedom of expression, wanting to shut down these events.

“Again, I'm for freedom of expression and freedom of speech, but I do believe there is a line when it comes to the potential danger towards the public or children. There’s a whole lot of gender ideologies out there currently, even in our schools. And if no one at least challenges them or brings a different perspective, then these sort of beliefs, again under free speech, just go through without any critical thinking or critical questioning.”

Ngahuka says he is still hoping that the “council comes to their senses” and cancels the event.

“I've contacted the mayor and the councillors. I've sent emails, texts and phoned some of them. Some of them have no comment. Do they stand for it, against it or neutral? Because we want to know how the show, one, got approval to go ahead and also, how did it get funded from rates and taxpayer money? I think up to $1,200 now. And so there's been no response at the moment, just one generic email from the mayor.”

Ngahuka says his church members would be protesting the events tomorrow.

Asked how he would prevent it becoming confrontational, Ngahuka said: “I've been in Destiny for 20 years. We've done numerous protests and stands and rallies, and they're quite peaceful. We've never had any violent outbreak from our part. We got some security measures that we put in place just to safeguard people, but from our part, there'll be no violence.”

“I can't really say for the rainbow community. I have heard that they're rallying up support across our city of Hastings, but from our part, we don't do violence of that sort. I work with the Man Up programme. I help people to not be violent anymore and stop the abuse. And so that's what we do. We do peaceful protests and peaceful stands. “

Watch the accompanying video to see the full interview with Michael Ngahuka