Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Destiny City

Destiny Church's Bishop, Brian Tamaki, has got in the news for what the media calls'Destiny City.' Though to be fair to Bishop Tamaki did call it  a town. Destiny Church announced at a sermon in Rotorua this week that he has resource consents and permissions granted for developing a site in Wiri, near Manukau City Center in South Auckland to create a community for his church's  adherents. Bishop Tamaki had alluded to this perviously, making news that he wanted to create a place for everyone in his church to live, to be close together in South Auckland, where his biggest following is located.

Not to say that he cantor shouldn't do it, as much as I have my own views of Destiny Church, we shouldn't discriminate on faith; and as for his town, he is currently developing a site privately on behalf of a private entity. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, as a future urban planner, I welcome the idea as it will finally create the growth and development to give work to people like me. Many people disagree or dislike these plans, either on the integrity of Bishop Tamaki, or Destiny Church; while others don't like the idea of a privately developed community being built, with the facilities inside designed for Destiny Church adherents.

Tertiary Education Union Screams
A striking feature of the proposed development is the university that Bishop Tamaki plans to found. A press release in Scoop from the TEU (Tertiary Education Union) shows the unions are opposed to it, like almost everything else. The government's TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) will apparently give way to institutions such as the proposed university to operate in New Zealand, which the union is unhappy about. But their main concern over these types of institutions, which haven't even started yet, is that it is not a 'public' university, not receiving taxpayer money and not controlled by bureaucrats.
“Destiny’s outlandish ‘university’ makes a mockery of the public education responsibilities of New Zealand’s real universities, polytechnics and wānanga,” said TEU President Dr Sandra Grey. “Our public universities all provide accredited evidence based high quality public education. That is what New Zealanders expect when they hear the term ‘university’.”
“The Government’s Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, currently being negotiated with the United States and seven other countries, will ensure those sham-universities have the same rights to set up business in New Zealand that Mr Tamaki has."
Where Dr Sandra Grey is wrong, is that 'university' is not specifically a government controlled education entity. Correctly, a university is an educational institute with many courses of advanced learning. It can be privately or publicly owned, and has the discretion of determining what it teaches as advanced learning. The curriculum at Destiny Church's university may not appeal to everyone, but that is for the private education market to determine, presenting no risk to the taxpayer by not receiving public funds.The integrity of other universities does not hang on Destiny Church's institution, as they are all run independently and the integrity of each university is based on public perception and performance, both the responsibility of each institution.

Moving In, New Neighbors
The development proposal is big indeed, and something this big and bold does not escape controversy and opposition, and any development will always upset someone. The residents nearby the development site have mixed feelings towards the new town, where concerns are raised over traffic on the existing roads amongst other issues. This will all be subject to Auckland Council's planners and the Environment Court.The development will generate a great deal of work for people in construction, along with the lawyers, planners, consultants and accountants needed to pave the way for this project.

Destiny Church vs The Public
Bishop Tamaki is a controversial figure in New Zealand. With the public perception of Destiny Church being a cult, rather than a church, some are worried what this new development will mean, concentrating the adherents into a small space where they will interact mostly with each other. Interesting questions, but I think these worries are mostly rumor-fuelled and unfounded fears. The development will be within Auckland, meaning the new town will be integrated into a large city already, and probably won't house as much as half of followers, as it will serve as a community center as opposed to a concentration camp. Being part of a large city means people are not socially excluded by location also, with the residents working around Auckland and continuing to be part of greeter Auckland society. 

Extreme and violent concerns such as a plan akin to the Waco incident are an extremely cynical and prejudiced view of other people on religious grounds. There is nothing awfully special about this development as opposed to others, such as state housing developments, which could be accused of concentrating low-income earners into a a single area, and are managed and controlled by the government using taxpayer funds. The mere fact that this is the project is being undertaken by a religious organization makes little significance in terms of development, and socially it would be no different to Muslims living nearby a community mosque, or Catholics living nearby a church. 

From an economic and development perspective, Bishop Tamaki's development proposal isn't anything particularly new or scary, despite the controversy. It's a development from the private sector that will boost the economy, and create a community center for Destiny Church. Bishop Tamaki is taking a large risk on himself and his organization embarking on this project, with no government involvement the loss falls upon Destiny Church if the project fails. Let them be, allow them to take this risk, and let's see how they pull this off.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting and joining the discussion! Remember to keep the language classy, and I'm a stickler for grammar :P