Greymouth Star – Gloriavale ‘preparing for change’

Greymouth Star – Gloriavale ‘preparing for change’

By Laura Mills – Greymouth Star – 25/05/2022

There are signs Gloriavale plans to ride out the current storm of controversy, after suggestions that more businesses may stop working with the 600-strong Lake Haupiri commune.

Westland Milk Products says it is investigating legal avenues to possibly suspend milk collection from Gloriavale’s dairy farms, and meatworks are reconsidering their supply of offal to the community, following the recent Employment Court ruling against the Christian community.

The court found that three former Gloriavale members had been effectively employees from age six until they left, working up to 70 hours a week for the benefit of the community-owned businesses, which include large dairy farms and a meal plant, Value Proteins.

Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor, said: “We are currently reviewing our relationship with Value Proteins and have requested further information from them.”

ANZCO Foods, which has the meatworks at Kokiri, said today it was taking advice on how the court ruling might affect its relationship with Value Proteins.

Silver Fern Farms, which has a meat plant at Hokitika, went further and said in a statement it had decided to begin the process to discontinue any commercial arrangements with Value Proteins.

“We will now be working with all parties involved to bring this into effect.”

The Greymouth Star understands Gloriavale has not yet decided whether to appeal the Employment Court decision.

Those with connections to the community stress that progress has been made, changes are afoot to comply with the law, and there is an understanding this needs to happen fairly quickly.

The pressure has gone on Gloriavale in the past month since the court decision.

The Charities Commission has launched a fresh investigation, and workplace inspectors are expected to revisit.

If Gloriavale couples are in future paid the minimum wage, this would push their annual income to over $80,000, severely reducing the Working for Families payments currently paid to the community.

However, some expect that members will simply tithe their wages back to Gloriavale.

In the last financial year, Gloriavale recorded 23,600 volunteer hours, which would equate to a $500,000 wage bill at current minimum wage rates.  The Employment Court ruling would push up those hours too.

According to Gloriavale’s website, the community derives its income from dairy farming, deer farming and the manufacture of meat meal.

It has also planted many trees, including pinus radiata and Douglas fir to provide timber for future building projects.

Its deer farm raises stags for velvet and trophy heads, and stags and hinds for the venison market.  The deer velvet is marketed worldwide as a dietary supplement.

The rendering plant at Lake Haupiri takes deer offal which is made into a powder known as cervine meal.

“We make the greatest quantity of this in the world, to the best quality. We also process bovine meal (from cattle) and ovine meal (from sheep). The meal is exported by container to Asia, the USA and Europe as specialised ingredients for pet food of for stock food.  We also export tallow for use in pharmaceuticals,” the website says.

Gloriavale also has an aircraft company that flies scenic flights throughout the South Island and does charters.