By Mark Crysell and Mava Enoka
Grace Adams and Poia Alpha blend easily into a crowd but they are remarkable survivors.
The two South Auckland sisters survived one of the most infamous cults of the 20th Century.
Grace and Poia were followers of David Koresh, a self-declared prophet and leader of the Branch Davidians who led 76 people to their death in Waco, Texas.
“I believed he was the son of god,” Grace says. Older sister Poia believes she was controlled by the cult leader: “I look back and I think I was definitely brainwashed.”
They talk of a charismatic and scruffy David Koresh holding audiences spellbound for hours quoting bible passages from memory. But they also tell us how he controlled their diet with bizarre food combinations; no chicken skin, no icing on doughnuts, popcorn for dinner.
They describe beatings at the hand of Koresh, being threatened with an AK47 and how he took girls as young as 11 to his bedroom for sex.
That was the revelation, Koresh called the New Light, “for all married women it meant that we were no longer married to our legal husbands, we all belonged to him”, says Poia.
Both Poia and Grace managed to escape David Koresh but a third sister, Rebecca, perished in the flames after FBI agents raided the Waco Compound in 1993.
As Grace says: “Had I not been brought back to New Zealand I wouldn't be here today... this is the depth of the damage that gets done to you by cults."
Both sisters now work to help other people who feel they have been caught up in a cult.
You can watch Grace and Poia’s story on TVNZ1’s SUNDAY programme and TVNZ ONDEMAND on Sunday at 7.30pm.