Police investigating claims of forced labour, slavery and servitude, court hears: RNZ
By Jean Edwards | RNZ Reporter|
Police are investigating allegations of forced labour, slavery and servitude at the Gloriavale Christian community, the Employment Court has heard.
Overseeing Shepherd Howard Temple confirmed the inquiry on his third and final day of questioning at a hearing to determine whether six former Gloriavale women were employees, rather than volunteers.
The leavers claim they were exploited and treated like slaves, working long hours doing food preparation, cooking, cleaning and laundry on the commune’s domestic teams.
The case follows similar legal action by three former Gloriavale men found to have been community employees from the age of just six, doing “strenuous, difficult and sometimes dangerous” work on farms and in factories when they were still legally required to be at school.
Temple told the Attorney-General’s lawyer Jenny Catran he was aware police were investigating the possibility of forced labour, slavery and servitude inside Gloriavale.
“I don’t have a lot of knowledge, a lot of information,” he said.
“Police work under a confidentiality clause, they don’t disclose a lot of what they’re doing and where they are and who they’re talking to, to me.”
The court heard government agencies had visited Gloriavale more than 300 times since January 2020, including representatives from police, Oranga Tamariki, the Labour Inspectorate, WorkSafe and Charities Services.