Lawyer for 'Gloriavale six' takes aim at Govt in anger

A lawyer for the 'Gloriavale six' says the West Coast religious community is a boil the Government needs to lance.

On Thursday, the employment court found in favour of the women, that they were employees, not volunteers, and so were due the rights and payments of workers.

But lawyer Dennis Gates said the women shouldn't have had to go to court, rather the Government should have stepped in a long time ago to liberate them from slavery.

Ex-member Pearl Valor woke up in Geraldine on Friday astounded that her voice had finally been heard.

"It's just so incredible just to be believed, it's quite powerful," Valor said.

She's one of six women now legally seen as the hard-working employees they were for years on end and under punishing conditions. Valor's now hoping the victory brings change.

"We've been listened to, we've been acknowledged and now something can be done," she said.

Their win came after years and thousands of hours of work by lawyers Brian Henry and Dennis Gates.

The women will now be compensated but Gates said he is still "angry" because he now knows exactly how Gloriavale operates.

"This community should never have been allowed to happen, it's been allowed to happen because government agencies, politicians and many other people who could have stopped it have sat back," Gates said.

He said it's up to the government agencies and politicians to liberate those still in the community.

"What I don't want to see happen is what I understand is going to happen - that the government agencies are going to sit back and do nothing," Gates said.

Nothing about a community he likens to calving season.

"If you're a male you're knocked on the head and off to the freezing works, if you're a female you're left to breed and after that you're not really valued," Gates said.

Gloriavale Leavers' Support Trust manager Liz Gregory said Gloriavale is exploiting people.

"There are people in Gloriavale who are also awaiting this judgment who I know will be very pleased that the judge has seen there are issues there, there is exploitation and people who need a better life and better choice."

No government agency has responded to Thursday's ruling with a promise of change. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said the ruling doesn't identify who the employer is in this case.

"That's actually the labour inspector's job - sick and tired of doing what is actually the government's agencies' job," Gates said.

He is desperate but not hopeful the agencies in charge will do the job they're responsible for.

"I would love to see that on Monday but I think it will be Monday in about a decade's time before they get off their butt and talk about it," Gates said.

Gregory said the court case has been about the Government's "failure to act" and it has been more than one agency that's failed.

Valor also has a message to the Government: "Look past the smoke screen, look past the trained responses, this is a cult you're dealing with."

Some of that smoke is now blown away, Gloriavale's power and control under the spotlight.