Independent filmmakers Noel Smyth and Fergus Grady lift the lid on the secretive Gloriavale Christian Community following a family of survivors searching for justice.


When widespread abuse is uncovered at a New Zealand cult, a family must turn to the legal system in an effort to save themselves and their community from the all powerful leaders “the Shepherds”.

About the movie

GLORIAVALE’ is an observational documentary by filmmakers Noel Smyth and Fergus Grady (Camino Skies).

The closed doors of the Gloriavale Christian Community are forcefully assailed in this probing documentary, which follows a team of survivors and supporters on their crusade to bring the West Coast cult’s true nature to light. A heady mix of exposé and legal drama, with flourishes of espionage and heart-rending confessionals, the film makes an impassioned case against an organisation steeped in allegations of coercion, oppression and abuse.

The documentary introduces brother and sister John and Virginia, escapees fighting to free the rest of their family from the organisation’s grasp. Home video footage from their youth gives the audience a rare glimpse inside the daily operations of Gloriavale, while their interviews recount a harrowing lifestyle of servitude, exploitation and sexual abuse. Meanwhile, an eclectic team of lawyers, investigators and campaigners wage a strategic battle against the wealthy organisation through the court system, in the face of seemingly ambivalent powers that be.

This first-hand experience of life inside Gloriavale is devastatingly told. The transgressions of the church leadership and complicity of inactive state forces fall squarely in the  film’s crosshairs, but it is the humanity of the victims and courage of the survivors that elevate this poignant investigation. — Adrian Hatwell

Gloriavale Film Poster


“A beautifully crafted film that reveals the shocking truths about life at Gloriavale, and the impact on those who were part of it.”
Francesca Rudkin — Newstalk ZB


“Lifting the veil on ‘New Zealand’s secret cult’ and its fall from utopian ideal to Animal Farm-esque nightmare, this enlightening, heartrending, rage-inducing documentary follows former members as they battle for justice and reform from the outside. An excellent, powerful primer on the history, controversy and concern surrounding Gloriavale.”
James Croot —


“This is a side of New Zealand you know nothing about”
Melanie Reid — Newsroom


“A heartbreaking tale of faith betrayed”
Steve Newall — Flicks

More Information

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