Former Glorivale leader takes stand in Employment Court dispute

Gloriavale's Overseeing Shepherd Howard Temple was in court on Thursday - not to give evidence but to support one of his former leaders.

Faithful Pilgrim took the stand in the Employment Court defending the role of women at the West Coast commune.

"The plaintiffs claim the shepherds of Gloriavale have absolute power and control over the community and are tyrants. That is not true," former Glorivale shepherd Faithful Pilgrim said.

Six former residents have argued the work they did while living at Gloriavale was as employees and not volunteers.

"A big part of their time in the kitchen was spent socialising rather than working flat out the whole time," Pilgrim said. 

Pilgrim told the court he "stood down" as principal of the community's school.

The Teachers Council disciplined him for endorsing a teacher with a past of sexual assault. 

"I felt that had brought the school into disrepute," Pilgrim said in court.

He said the claims leaders were able to touch anyone they liked were misleading and any physical contact was simply a show of support.

"It was intended to make them feel secure to have a friendly relationship with a leading person in the community," he said.

Pilgrim became emotional as he denied beating his son, who has since left the community but told the court he found it hard to relate to him.

The hearing moves to Greymouth next week.