Gloriavale leader hits back: 'There is not a sexual predator at Gloriavale'

A leader of the controversial Gloriavale Christian community has told 1 NEWS that there's no sexual predator living among them.

1 NEWS spoke to leader Fervent Steadfast after an Internal Affairs investigation revealed allegations of sexual and physical abuse and financial mismanagement. 

TVNZ's Sunday programme has unearthed allegations of physical and sexual abuse over the years at the Gloriavale community, with members speaking out about forced family separation.

"It was really incredible for me to see. They turned on me like a pack of wolves," one former member told the programme.

It was this and other reports indicating "financial irregularities" that led Internal Affairs to launch its own investigation through Charities Services which issued a list of 18 "actions" required, as revealed today by Morgan Tait for The Newsroom.

We don't have to make changes - Gloriavale spokesperson Fervent Steadfast

These include policies for sexual and physical abuse complaints, no longer opening bank accounts for its members without their knowledge, making it easier for former members to stay in touch with family and for members to stop smacking their children.

But Gloriavale spokesperson Fervent Steadfast isn't concerned. 

Asked in a phone interview what changes are they going to make to maintain charitable status, he said, "We don't have to make changes. They are happy with what we are doing and we are working together in a positive, happy relationship."

Investigations into allegations of offending at the Gloriavale Christian Community are ongoing - Inspector Dan Mattison, Acting Area Commander West Coast

The Charities Services says it's going to work with Gloriavale to develop better governance, but "the trust's activities would not constitute grounds for issuing a warning notice or proceeding with further compliance action".

Police confirmed they are investigating allegations of sexual abuse at Gloriavale.

"Investigations into allegations of offending at the Gloriavale Christian Community are ongoing. Any and all complaints received by police are treated seriously. To date no charges have been laid," Inspector Dan Mattison, Acting Area Commander West Coast, said in a statement.   

Asked is there a sexual predator at Gloriavale, Fervent Steadfast said: "No there is not a sexual predator at Gloriavale."

Charities Services says it will continue to monitor the controversial community.

An internal affairs investigation into the controversial Christian community revealed allegations of abuse. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch amazing underwater footage: Rare breed of salmon 'back from the dead' and flourishing in South Island waters

A rare breed of salmon has been found in the thousands in the South Island after being thought to have died out in the late 1980's.

While sightings of sockeye salmon spawning in the MacKenzie Country have been reported from 2005, a Fish and Game officer has now seen large numbers of the species.

The sockeye is rarely caught by anglers as it filter feeds on plankton. Source: Supplied

"It's a mystery to where the sockeye were in that period (prior-2005) and we assume there were small populations remaining in the lakes," officer Jayde Couper said.

Fish and Game spokesperson Richie Cosgrove said this is the only sockeye population in the southern hemisphere.

Mr Couper said the significant 'comeback' of sockeye from the 'verge of extinction' is ongoing.

"This year the spawning effort appears to be widespread and the numbers are reasonably high," he said.

The red-bodied sockeye have been observed in the majority of tributaries and streams off Lake Benmore, including the upper Ahuriri River, Lower Ohau River and its tributaries; most notably Twizel River and Fraser River, Tekapo River and its tributaries such as the Mary Burn and Forks River.

The salmon was released in 1901 in New Zealand to grow a sea-run salmon canning industry, but it never went to the ocean. Source: Supplied

Fish and Game has also found the species in areas they weren't known to exist.

Last year the organisation heard new reports about Lake Pukaki being home to the species after decades of no confirmed sightings of their existence in the lake.

"Now this year there are around a thousand spawning fish in just one of the lake's tributary streams," officer Jayde Couper said.

The salmon was released in 1901 with hopes they would fuel a sea-run salmon canning industry, but the species never headed to the sea.

At the State Highway Eight bridge near Twizel, the sight of hundreds of sockeye bursting out of Twizel River as they scramble to find the right spawning location in the river bed is drawing in tourists and locals.

Fish and Game spokesperson Richie Cosgrove said viewing their migration is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Seeing the species flourish has prompted Fish and Game to work on finding a method to determine the total spawning run in the district.

Mr Couper said the public should note it's an offence under the Conservation Act to disturb spawning salmon - they can't be caught and people cannot walk in riverbeds where spawning is in process.

The sockeye's impressive spawning run is drawing crowds near Twizel. Source: 1 NEWS

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Tauranga welcomes new art exhibition featuring 22 pieces from famed Banksy

An art exhibition has opened today featuring 22 pieces from graffiti artist Banksy - known for his political stencil designs.

The show is part of a 12-week festival showcasing street art in the city, and the Tauranga Art Gallery is definitely getting into the spirit.

Organiser George Shaw says it's the first time a major collection from the artists has been seen in the North Island.

"We put our first show on in 2010 and if someone said we'd be doing this seven years later I just would of thought ... nah that's never going to happen."

Mr Shaw and his wife started collecting Banksy's work a decade ago.

"But then very quickly an interest turned into a passion which turned into an obsession and within a four year period resulted in the artwork here," he says.

Although Mr Shaw wouldn't elaborate on the full cost of the pieces, it's estimated that those on display are worth at least $200,000.

Work by New Zealand street artists like Askew One, Charles and Janine Williams and Jacob Yikes is also on display.

The Tauranga Art Gallery is showcasing the street art as part of a 12 week festival. Source: 1 NEWS