Stuff: Authority, abuse allegations and getting out: What we learned about Gloriavale over the past few weeks
Five weeks of evidence in the Employment Court regarding life at Gloriavale has pulled back the veil on life at the isolated West Coast community. Some paint a picture of a cult-like society where members are indoctrinated to submit to the leadership. Others say it is merely a simple commune where people seek to serve the Lord. MARINÉ LOURENS and JOANNE NAISH report.
Over the past five weeks, members of Gloriavale and those who have fled the secretive West Coast Christian community have told the Employment Court about their experiences living there – and there were often vast differences in their versions of life there.
The case is centred around six women – Virginia Courage, Pearl Valor, Serenity Pilgrim, Rose Standtrue, Anna Courage and Crystal Loyal – arguing they should have been recognised as employees, not volunteers, for the domestic work they did for years at the enclave.
The group said women in Gloriavale were made to work long hours in “slave-like” conditions from as young as 6 or 7, but others said they were grateful to be looked after and cared for in the community.