Brian Tamaki and his picnics that aren't protests

I'm on the fence about Brian Tamaki. Not as a person or a church leader, but on the legal ramifications of the the gathering he fronted in the Domain. 

He was definitely in breach of a Public Health Order and has been charged accordingly. But how does the right to protest work in a pandemic and what does that mean for democracy in our country? There has been some discussion from other bloggers such as David Farrier that Tamaki was the brown patsy for a white-church coordinated political drive but I think this is all nonsense. Tamaki is a big boy and while I doubt his wisdom, I don't doubt his cunning. 

The language gets tricky and Tamaki is working this. Facebook pages claimed the gathering was not a protest but a Stand (using Biblical language here). Tamaki met with high ranking police and explained his intentions for the October 2 event. Now, the church leader is planning further "picnics" in covid restricted areas- to mock the terminology used by the government. Surely he would be better to come out and simply claim a protest but their group has been careful not to do this. 

What is clear to me is that these actions have nothing to do with faith and everything to do with politics and a desire to introduce Trumpian grass roots movements to New Zealand. I don't like it but have to concede that there are those with different political views to me who have the right to air their disapproval. 

What if it turns into a super spreader? It concerns me and I don't have the answers but we need to hold fire on our personal judgements and think through what it would mean if our democracy was threatened. The officials have a challenging case study and I'll continue to watch with interest.