Gloriavale: Employment Court chief judge visits West Coast commune

Gloriavale: Employment Court chief judge visits West Coast commune

By Jean Edwards | RNZ |

As lunchtime nears, a young Gloriavale woman stands on a metal step dipping a giant wooden spoon into a steaming hot vat, like a paddler working against a tide of macaroni cheese.

In one of the most isolated kitchens in the country, a visit by the Employment Court’s chief judge was a little daunting.

“Sorry, it’s just a little nerve-racking with a whole lot of people,” she confesses, although Christina Inglis is not here to judge her cooking.

The court had come to Gloriavale to better understand the evidence presented in a case brought by six former members who claim they were exploited, treated like slaves and exposed to workplace sexual harassment and abuse.

Three of the women – Pearl Valor, Virginia Courage and her daughter Anna Courage – joined the chief judge, lawyers and reporters on a two-hour tour of the Christian commune on Friday, led by Gloriavale members Sarah Standtrue and Purity Valor.

Valor’s husband Samuel Valor is a Shepherd and one of five Gloriavale defendants in the case.

As the macaroni simmered in the super-size steam kettle, other women washed fruit, sliced bread and turned out trays of chocolate muffins.

The court party wove around stainless steel benches and kitchen equipment, including an old dishwasher reportedly on the “death list”.

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