Arresting Gloriavale's leader Howard Temple could 'destabilise' community, report claims

A report obtained by Newshub shows concern from a government official over Gloriavale's ability to meet protection measures for its residents. 

It suggests the arrest of leader Howard Temple for historical sex charges could destabilise the reclusive Christian community's continuity and leadership structure. 

But the head of the Gloriavale leavers support group said the 83-year-old is still very much in charge - even though he's living outside the commune. 

The Overseeing Shepherd is the most senior role within Gloriavale. That role is still performed by Temple - a man who faces multiple sex charges and who is believed to be living outside the commune.

"Stephen Standfast has been given a few more key responsibilities but he has no power to make changes. Everything will be run through Howard as normal," said Liz Gregory from the Gloriavale Leavers' Support Trust. 

A report authored the day after Temple was arrested said new measures to protect the Lake Haupiri residents could be jeopardised without his leadership.

Those measures came about after a 2022 Employment Court decision found in favour of three leavers who argued they were employees while living at Gloriavale. 

As a result, the Cabinet set up a multi-agency response. 

Five outcomes were agreed with Temple and the leadership around residents' rights and the reporting of physical and sexual abuse.

Liz Gregory, from the Gloriavale Leavers' Support Trust.
Liz Gregory, from the Gloriavale Leavers' Support Trust. Photo credit: Newshub.

"I'm not actually convinced that the five key outcomes are really going to create the change needed at Gloriavale, I think it's much deeper than that," Gregory told Newshub. 

The report highlights the key risks that could derail that work, including: 

  1. Loss of trust and confidence in Government agencies. 
  2. Destabilisation of Gloriavale's leadership structure. 
  3. The impact further negative publicity may have on Gloriavale's commercial relationships; and 
  4. An escalation of community members looking to leave.

"The risk of destabilisation is high but not just because of Howard's arrest, there's a cumulative thing going on here, there are so many court actions," said Gregory. 

"I think many loyal community members believe it's honestly a storm in a teacup and it will all be OK." 

In August, Temple pleaded not guilty to historical indecent assault charges. 

He is due to reappear in court in January.