Two large families flee secretive Gloriavale community in past three weeks

Two large families flee secretive Gloriavale community
Two large families flee secretive Gloriavale community

Two large families have left the reclusive religious community of Gloriavale - a religious sect, located near Greymouth on the South Island's west coast, home to around 600 residents.

Gloriavale has been described as a tight-knit community and the defections of the two families will likely send shockwaves through the community.

Anyone who walks away expects to be completely cut off from their family and friends who stay behind.

The families will settle in the wider Canterbury region with the support of the Gloria Leavers Support Trust. 

Religious historian Peter Lineham previously told Newshub that more often than not Gloriavale members will leave the community in a state of trauma.

"The outside world is not like Gloriavale, and they need a huge amount of assistance to make the transition practical, financial but also psychological," he says. 

"There's some very serious risks that they will have crises of confidence and want to go back. Support and love and kindness is going to make a huge difference." 

The General Manager of Gloria Leavers Support Trust, Liz Gregory, says close to 100 former Gloriavale members have been resettled with the help of the trust. 

"Some families come out with as many as 12 children, and very few clothing items or possessions."  

Gregory told Newshub it's a "very unique" place. 

"As much as you might see in documentaries that may portray Gloriavale in a certain light, perhaps one which is an idyllic, caring and loving community - there is a different side to Gloriavale that perhaps hasn't been talked about a lot." 

Gregory from the Trust says leavers often depart with very little and require help which is why she established the trust. 

To support the goals of the trust, several members who have left Gloriavale will speak at two upcoming fundraising events in Timaru on November 14 and Christchurch on November 30 where they will speak about "what life in Gloriavale is really like."

Gregory says the events will aim to cover the significant costs associated with leaving Gloriavale and setting up lives on the outside but that they are also "quite empowering for them."


Contact Newshub with your story tips: