Gloriavale's overseeing shepherd Howard Temple denies being a dictator and tyrant

Gloriavale's overseeing shepherd has made a rare in-person public appearance to take the stand in the Employment Court.

Howard Temple swore an oath to begin giving his evidence in Christchurch on Monday.

Six former residents argue the work they did while living in the reclusive Christian community was as employees and not volunteers.

Temple, 82, told the hearing women have an important role in the community and carry out most of the domestic work.

"Some of the plaintiff's witnesses are endeavouring to paint me as some sort of unrestricted dictator or tyrant," Temple claimed.

"I am certainly not that."

Last year, Temple appeared before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, answering questions about sexual assault allegations.

Howard Temple.
Howard Temple. Photo credit: Newshub.

On Monday, he told the court historic issues could have and should be handled better.

"Any form of child abuse or the abuse of anyone is unacceptable," he said.

Temple is expected to be on the stand for the next three days.