Death of Centrepoint founder a relief

  • Breaking
  • 06/05/2012

By 3 News online staff

The former leader of the controversial Centrepoint commune on Auckland's North Shore has died aged 86.

Bert Potter spent years in jail on drugs charges, and for indecently assaulting young girls at the commune. He had been suffering from Alzheimers for the past few years.

A 2010 study found many who lived at the commune suffered long-term effects, such as depression and anxiety as a result of the drug use, sexual abuse and parental neglect which occurred at the commune.

Barri Leslie was a member of the commune for 13 years and eventually played a pivotal role in its closure in 2000.

“What was happening at that time was a revolution in relationships really, and relationships were breaking up, my relationship had broken up… but there weren’t the social supports there and so Bert… was kind of flavour of the month for people to go to,” Ms Leslie told Firstline this morning.

She says it was the late 1970s, a very different world, when people were attracted to Centrepoint and to Bert Potter.

“Leaders like Bert can create a huge emotional hype, and that’s very attractive when people are in stress,” says Ms Leslie.

When Potter was released from jail in 1999, he went back to Centrepoint. Ms Leslie then made it her mission to get Centrepoint shut down.

“The thought just kept staying with me [that] this place should be closed down. I didn’t know how to do that. It was a real team effort, I was just a spokesperson,” she says.

Ms Leslie says those who ‘suffered’ at the commune will be relieved at Mr Potter’s death.

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source: newshub archive