Why they wear blue: The most unusual customs from inside Gloriavale

All eyes are on the religious West Coast sect Gloriavale following the death of the community's leader, Hopeful Christian.

While rumours are swirling as to who will take the reins, little detail is known thanks to the extremely closed-off nature of the sect.

In fact, Gloriavale has maintained an air of mystery since its establishment in 1969 - leaving many with burning questions they want answered. Here are some of the Gloriavale customs that we do know about.

Why blue uniforms?

All members of the Gloriavale community wear a uniform - trousers, shirt and a tie for the men and a floor-length blue dress for the women.

There isn't any religious significance to the colour blue, the sect's official website says. They wear blue "because it's a colour that goes well with any skin colour or complexion".

"We decided in about 1988 to standardise the type of clothing we wear to prevent the expression of vanity as much as possible, and to make our purchasing of materials and the sewing of clothes more economical."

Women also wear head coverings, "as a sign to the angels that a woman has placed herself in submission to the authority of the man".

Members rarely deviate from the standard uniform - even wearing the layers if they go for a swim in the river. Men and boys may wear different clothes depending on their jobs or the occasion. Women choose between a light blue and light pink gown for their wedding day - always of the same style.

Arranged marriages

Women's marriages are arranged, and often predetermined by age 12, according to an ex-member of the community.

Lilia Tarawa escaped the sect with her family and wrote about her time there in a book, Daughter of Gloriavale: My life in a Religious Cult.

Ms Tarawa claims arranged marriages were decided by Hopeful Christian, with the female having no say in the matter. She says if it wasn't for New Zealand's laws which prohibit marriage before the age of 16, Christian would have girls marrying and having sex even earlier.

Women were expected to "submit to men" or else be considered "ungodly", she wrote.

All marriages must be approved by a small group of male leaders in the community.

It is unusual for a woman not to be married by the age of 22, like the subject of the highly publicised 2016 documentary Gloriavale: A Woman's Place, Dove Love.

Birth control is forbidden, home births encouraged

All forms of birth control and contraception are forbidden in Gloriavale, and it is seen as a women's duty to expand the community by bearing as many children as possible.

Gloriavale's website says if they allowed birth control, "generations would have been flushed down the toilet with contraception, or aborted".

"As we trust God for our needs and do not practise birth control, a married couple may have 12 or more children."

Couples are expected to consummate their marriage in between the ceremony and the reception.

Women will not travel to the nearest hospital to give birth, instead doing it at home with the help of a midwife. Four-hundred children have been born into the community from home - which more than 30 babies a year in the community of 550 people.

Strange names

Gloriavale names often sound strange, because children are named after Christian values at birth. Members include Elijah Overcomer, Steadfast Joy, Faith Ben Israel and Pearl Valour.

"We name our children to inspire them, such as Charity Love, Willing Disciple or Trust Steadfast," the group explains.

Men work, women clean

Men take on the farming jobs in the sect's multi-million dollar farming sector, while the women cook, clean, teach and become nurses. They also take on the prime parental role of child care.

In their senior years of high school, girls and boys are taught separate vocational subjects - females learn sewing, cooking, laundry and childcare while males learn carpentry, engineering and farming.

"Our aim is prepare our own students from our community for a life of practical service, a life of faith within the community," Gloriavale Christian Community School principal Faithful Pilgrim told NZME.

"We're not preparing our students for a life in your society; we are preparing them for a life in our society. Otherwise it wouldn't be sensible, would it?"

Leadership roles in the community are also made up of only men.

No one earns a salary

All money earned is controlled by Gloriavale's leaders rather than its individual families.

"All the men and women in our workforce are self-employed but bound together in a legal partnership that contracts labour to our companies," Gloriavale's website reads.

"Individuals have pledged to share their income with other brethren in a common purse, just as the early church did.

"On a day-to-day basis there is no need for anyone at the community to handle money because all our needs are met."

Gloriavale KFC chicken

Hopeful Christian loved KFC chicken, and has shouted feeds of it for the entire religious sect, Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower uncovered earlier this month.

Christian even tried to replicate the secret '11 herbs and spices' recipe, with the cooks making a Gloriavale version three times a month.