High Court to look into running of Gloriavale after former member speaks out

The High Court of New Zealand says it will be looking into the running of Gloriavale after a former member raised concerns.

Members of Gloriavale commune at a gathering. Source: Alexander Turnbull Library

1 NEWS obtained a letter which the High Court wants to be widely distributed to anyone who has lived at or who still lives at Gloriavale.

Part of the letter reads as follows: "A former resident of Gloriavale has asked the High Court of New Zealand to examine the role, conduct and actions of the Overseeing Shepherd, the Shepherds and others in the running of Gloriavale and its assets as trustees.

"The proceedings seek the appointment of new trustees … and nothing else."

It goes on to name the lawyers which can be contacted by former and current residents of Gloriavale. 

The news comes after former members recently said sexual abuse is rife at the controversial Christian community on the West Coast.

Sexual abuse charges have been laid, but the victims say much of it gets ignored.

“I'll be careful what I say here but it's personal to me. The abuse it was part of my life and that was one of the reasons why I didn’t want to raise my daughter there,” ex-Gloriavale member Rosanna Overcomer told 1 NEWS.

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Former members are concerned about the vulnerability of children and say while some charges have recently been laid, much of the abuse never comes to light. Source: 1 NEWS

She escaped with her family to a Canterbury farm seven years ago.

After discovering Gloriavale’s founder Hopeful Christian had been jailed for sexual abuse in the nineties, she says residents were told he'd been locked up for being a Christian.

“That started us really on a journey of questioning a lot of things,” Overcomer said.

Her friend Virginia Courage also walked away from the only life she'd known just a year ago.

“I have my own personal issues from childhood and I have some extremely attractive daughters and I was extremely concerned about them right from little girls.”

Last month, a 21-year-old man was charged with doing an indecent act on three children at Gloriavale.