Gloriavale under pressure; police interview members

Gloriavale Christian Community. Photo: ODT files
Gloriavale Christian Community. Photo: ODT files
The Gloriavale Christian Community was under intense pressure yesterday as police and social agencies circled in on the remote community at Haupiri, about 40km inland from Greymouth.

West Coast police have paid daily visits to Gloriavale in the past week.

Area commander Inspector Mel Aitken declined to detail the reason or if there were any charges pending as a result of the visits.

It is understood at least 33 female members of the community have been interviewed in the past week and a slew of charges was pending.

Gloriavale leader Fervant Stedfast declined to say if the community was feeling under siege, but acknowledged ``there's always rumours''.

``I have no comment whatsoever,'' Mr Stedfast said yesterday.

A source with personal knowledge of Gloriavale said another official operation was focusing on the community and how it cared and protected children.

``I think they've been gunning for them,'' the source said.

They described a community ``under siege'', and the leadership was increasingly being questioned by younger members.

The whistleblowers, however, were being ostracised.

People in the wider Grey district were increasingly aware of what was happening at Gloriavale because younger men banished from the commune were being given outside employment and support, the insider said.

Insp Aitken said other police often visited Gloriavale and had increasingly done so over the past two years.

This was to do with the police being in an active ``education role'' at Gloriavale, particularly in the community's schools.

``We're out at Gloriavale all the time because we do a lot of education in the school, so it's not unusual for police to go to Gloriavale,'' Insp Aitken said.

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