Senior National MP and Minister of Finance Nicola Willis has responded sharply to Brian Tamaki over a social media post concerning her Instagram activity and the following of a local Drag King.

The Destiny Church leader and self-appointed “Apostle Bishop” criticised Willis for following drag king Willy SmacknTush, known for family-friendly story-time events, on Instagram.

Tamaki’s post on X stated: “Can you believe NZ’s Minister of Finance, Nicola Willis, is a follower of Willy SmacknTush? I believe in people’s freedom of choice, but is it appropriate that the Minister of Finance is following this Drag King? This is an adult entertainer who attempts to entertain our kids.”


He also criticised the Government for funding services supporting New Zealand’s rainbow community.

Willis retorted, saying there was “no need to be jealous Brian”. She added, “I’ll follow you on Instagram too if you’ll give lipstick and boas a go.”

The social media clash follows SmacknTush’s announcement of the cancellation of a planned performance at the Upper Hutt City Library, citing “hate speech, threats, violence, and aggression”.

The drag king expressed disappointment over the cancellation, attributing it to a “small (but loud) group of people who are deeply obsessed with rainbow rights”.

“All because a person dressed in sparkles with a silly name wanted to read some books for the families who wanted to listen,” they said.

The performer supported the organisers’ decision to prioritise safety for staff and the public.

“Libraries are spaces for everyone. If you don’t want to attend a storytime event presented by a drag performer during International Pride Month, simply don’t go.”

SmacknTush addressed those attempting to intimidate, stating: “I feel pity for the small, dark, and hateful world you live in. You can never win; our queer and trans whānau aren’t going anywhere. We will continue to wear sparkles, be authentically ourselves, and be proud. We won’t take your bullying.”

Mike Ryan, director of community services at Upper Hutt City Council, released a statement explaining that they could not guarantee attendees a safe and welcoming environment.

“This decision is not something we take lightly and we understand that this may be disappointing to some. The safety of our tamariki, community, and staff is our priority. Our library users have the right to attend events in a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment.”

The council reiterated its commitment to inclusivity and diversity, aiming to ensure all individuals feel safe and welcome in Upper Hutt.

Last month, Tamaki admitted to instructing his followers to vandalise a rainbow crossing in Gisborne earlier in the year.