Fake 'Rhythm and Gloriavale' open day draws attention

A fake opening event for New Zealand's well-known fundamentalist Christian sect Gloriavale has...
A fake opening event for New Zealand's well-known fundamentalist Christian sect Gloriavale has gone viral on social media. Photo: Kurt Bayer
A fake opening event for well-known West Coast-based fundamentalist Christian sect Gloriavale has gone viral.

A Facebook page called "Rhythm and Gloriavale" has caught the eye of many Kiwis as it announced for the first time in Gloriavale's history that it is opening its gates to the public.

The post reveals that the fake event is open this week from Monday 20 - Friday 24 between the hours of 7am-5pm.

"Our gates are wide open for you to come and see us, our way of life and take one of our famous tractor rides around the place," the spoof post reads.

"This is to promote our festival so a gold coin donation would be much appreciated but not required. There will be food trucks, bouncy castles and a beer garden.

"We also have a special private seminar for those under 18 thinking about joining."

The post was signed off by Nev, who was also known as the late convicted sex offender and former lead of Gloriavale, Hopeful Christian.

It also emphasises to not forget to bring the kids along "please".

The post, which was created yesterday, has more than 5900 comments and has also been widely shared.

Many made jokes about the Facebook post, saying the sect was probably looking for recruits.

"Obviously looking for new members or why are they bothering to open up the gates!" one person said.

Another wrote: "You may never get out if you turn up there. They will all be doing their jobs and make it look all above board."

While others were more concerned about the seminar for under 18s.

"Seminar for joining us if you're under 18 ... is a massive alarm bell ringing in my head right now," one person said.

While another added: "I'm concerned about the under 18s, are you guys going to teach and tell them it's ok to have 10 kids?"

However, other parents joked about being happy to leave their kids there.

"You keen?? [kid's name] can join the seminar while we hang in the beer garden," one mum wrote.

Another parent said: "I can't make it but can I drop my kids off for the whole week? I'm sure you guys can be trusted with 5 kids between 12 and 17 right?"

The original founder, Christian Hope, who died in 2018, served 11 months in prison in 1995 after being convicted of sexual abuse charges.

His granddaughter, Lilia Tarawa, who with her parents Perry and Miracle Tarawa fled Gloriavale eight years ago, now lives in Christchurch and revealed what happened in the commune in her book Daughter of Gloriavale - My life in a Religious Cult.

Tarawa reveals the level of power her charismatic and controlling grandfather had over the community.

Even when Hope, whose real name was Neville Cooper, was found guilty of three charges of sexual assault in 1995 and served a jail sentence he was held in high regard and gave religious instruction from his prison cell.

One of 10 children, Tarawa said she was "brainwashed" but at the same time constantly struggled with the restrictions placed on her.