Gloriavale's bizarre kindergarten photo albums

A family excommunicated by Gloriavale has been returned photo albums of their children's kindergarten memories - except the faces of their friends who remain inside are covered with a computer-generated image.

The family says that's vindictive, but Gloriavale says it's because they don't want images going outside the community.

James Ben-Canaan left Gloriavale and took his 11 kids with him.

Like all kindy kids, their early childhood teachers at the religious sect had compiled a book on them - so the family asked Gloriavale if they could have them back

"They replied that they belonged to the pre-school, but out of the kindness of their hearts they would let us have them," says Mr Ben-Canaan.

But when the book arrived for then four-year-old Daniel, some changes had been made - all the other children's faces were covered.

Other kids' faces have been obscured in the photo album.
Other kids' faces have been obscured in the photo album. Photo credit: Newshub.

"When they've sent us this book, they have put stickers over their faces so that we can't see their faces."

As a grandson of deceased founder Hopeful Christian, Mr Ben-Canaan says the covered faces include many of his children's cousins and friends.

"The kids wanted to see their friends," he said.

It turned out that Gloriavale staff actually changed the book by using a computer.

"It is not actually a sticker - I can't take that off. It has been printed with that over the face, so it can't be removed."

Gloriavale has three early childhood centres that get $2.5 million a year in Government funding. To meet licensing requirements, books like these are standard practice.

Other kids' faces have been obscured in the photo album.
Other kids' faces have been obscured in the photo album. Photo credit: Newshub.

The Ministry of Education said there is "no requirement for obscuring identity of children".

"At enrolment, parents must give permission for their child to be photographed and explain how the photos can/can't be used."

Newshub spoke to several early childhood teachers who did not want to appear on camera, but said they had never heard of faces being covered.

One of Gloriavale's senior leaders or 'shepherds', Fervent Stedfast, said the faces were covered because the Ben-Canaan children were entitled to their individual books but the other families inside did not want their identities sent out.

Mr Stedfast had no comment when asked if families made this clear at enrolment as required.

The Ministry of Education said it would not take any action, but said anyone affected could make a formal complaint.

Mr Ben-Canaan believes it was a vindictive move by the leadership. 

"To us, it was a bit childish."

It seems leaving Gloriavale is difficult at any age.