Fuseworks Media

Leading NZ lawyer challenges the ‘Voyeurs of New Zealand’ as Gloriavale is back in the public eye once again

Voyeurs of New Zealand, your next Gloriavale fix is here. Drip fed on TVNZ over three consecutive nights, Escaping Utopia brings into living rooms across the country, the desperate attempts to get away from the West Coast cult.

Once again, the reality of life in Gloriavale is being paraded in front of us for our enjoyment, and then will be quietly forgotten.

That is the lot of the people in Gloriavale; whetting salacious appetites only to then be forgotten.

The Gloriavale hierarchy is comfortable with being ‘out of sight out of mind’ as it fits in with their strategies to keep this community as isolated as possible from the rest of the world. The leaders tolerate these media exposés because they know the attention span of those in the outside world is less than that of a gnat.

Government agencies seem to be comfortable with this as a strategy too.

An intergovernmental department taskforce has been meeting monthly and at times more frequently, to discuss Gloriavale. This group reports directly to Cabinet and has been in existence now for nearly two years. It has achieved nothing and should be castigated for such ineptitude.

During the time this taskforce has been reporting to Cabinet, the Gloriavale school has been closed down, the men and women the cult said were volunteers have been determined by the courts to be employees, the leader of Gloriavale has been charged with sexual offences, other men have been convicted of sexual offences, and the welfare of nearly 400 children has been, and continues to be, ignored.

The Charities Commission is “investigating” the Christian Church Community Trust (a seemingly continuous state of affairs with no action being taken) despite that charity requiring compliance with the Gloriavale “constitution” namely the rule book known as What We Believe (WWB). WWB demands among other things that people in Gloriavale have to:

  1. 1. financially support the leaders
  2. 2. have to obey the leaders
  3. 3. are banned from going to Court for justice
  4. 4. banned from joining unions (which is illegal under the Employment Relations Act)
  5. 5. have to get permission from an elderly unqualified man to consult a doctor (especially embarrassing for women)
  6. 6. have to get permission to travel away from Gloriavale
  7. 7. have to work hard or not be fed
  8. 8. have limited access to education and media
  9. 9. are deliberately kept isolated from the rest of the world (Gloriavale are developing a new site at Brunner that is even more remote from mainstream NZ than the current settlement)
  10. 10. are kept deliberately ignorant of the financial status of the community, namely the leaders proclaiming that the community is broke while new farms are bought and millions of dollars are in the bank
  11. 11. have no choice in – clothing, gender orientation and expression, sport, occupation, marriage partner, and more.

None of the above would seem to fit comfortably in the common understanding of benevolent behaviour associated with a charity.

So, I hope you are enjoying watching “Escaping Utopia” about these families trying to escape, in the knowledge that watching and then ignoring is the norm in this country when it comes to Gloriavale.

Governments of the last 50 years have also ignored the plight of the inmates of Gloriavale so I guess it’s okay for you to do the same.

Women’s rights groups and advocates in New Zealand have done nothing for the women of Gloriavale so it must be alright for you to do the same.

The strident Māori rights movement has done nothing for the Tangata Whenua in Gloriavale so it must be alright for you to do the same.

The unions have done nothing for the people in Gloriavale so it must be alright for you to do the same.

The government agencies have watched, talked, reported, then watched some more, talked some more, reported some more and then done nothing so it must be alright for you to the same.

Only it’s not.

 

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