Gloriavale lawyer says 'stark choice' but members still choose lifestyle

Ryan Boswell
Source: 1News

Former Gloriavale members are being questioned about their so-called “choice” to stay in the West Coast commune.

The Employment Court is considering whether those living at Gloriavale are employees or volunteers.

The Labour Inspectorate ruled out investigating claims of long working hours last year, pointing to paperwork showing residents gave service to the community without the expectation of being paid.

In court, the lawyer for Gloriavale leaders, Scott Wilson, asked former members about their ability to leave.

“Whilst you didn't have a choice about being born into the community, you did with your own children," he said.

“You chose for them to be born into and part of that community didn't you, you and your wife?

“It might be a stark choice but there is a choice."

Former member Faithful Disciple responded: “There was no other choice."

Disciple explained that he tried to leave the community with his family in 2015 but was convinced by the leadership to stay.

“This hurts where you are taken into a meeting where you are harangued shamed and put under the severe mental stress to get you to submit to their will,” Disciple said.

Read more: Former Gloriavale member calls it a 'brutal control regime'

Born and raised at Gloriavale, he said it was run like a military boot camp.

“By the time a child attained 13 to 14 years of age they were well conditioned to what was a brutal control regime,” Disciple said.

Former member John Ready told the court he was kicked out of Gloriavale for challenging the leadership.

He said even parents don’t make decisions for their own children.

“Not inside Gloriavale, the parents don’t have the choice. They’ve been stripped of their ability to have choice.

“This dominant male is the absolute ruler of the community in all matters."

Gloriavale’s leaders will take the stand this week, fronting up publicly for the first time to address what goes on inside.