Gloriavale’s commune in India comes to attention of NZ Police


Gloriavale’s commune in India has come to the attention of the New Zealand Police.

Escaping Utopia. (Source: TVNZ)

The TVNZ documentary Escaping Utopia revealed the existence of the offshoot in a remote part of southern India, home to five Kiwi women, their husbands and children.

In a statement to 1News, a police spokesperson said they are “aware of a connection in India and have recently received a formal legal letter on the matter.

“That letter will be assessed in conjunction with the other relevant agencies.”

Calls for Gloriavale’s charitable status to be revoked

The calls are in light of more allegations of coercion and abuse at the West Coast community.

In the documentary, Theo Pratt said her sister Patience put her hand up to go to India because she wanted to look good in the leaders’ eyes, but she was now suffering.

“She used to be quite confident and people used to mock her for being really bossy growing up. She was just really quiet. Instead of replying, she would just do this nervous laugh.”

It was claimed that the women at the commune don’t have passports, and some of the children don’t have birth certificates.

The leader of the Indian commune was filmed by a hidden camera saying “a lot of Indian men will force themselves onto a lot of women” and that “it was part of the culture”.

Leading lawyer calls for Gloriavale to be shut down

The lawyer is filing proceedings against government departments, saying they’ve been too slow to act in tackling abuse at the Christian community.

Human rights lawyer Deborah Manning said searching questions needed to be asked.

“Can you consent when you’re born into Gloriavale?” Manning asked.

“We’ve got people who’ve been moved out of New Zealand and you have welfare concerns and so we need to set about thinking about what is the solution to that problem. It’s a very unique situation.”

Senior Gloriavale leader Peter Righteous said the West Coast commune was in “constant contact with our brethren in India and have heard no complaints from them on these issues”.

“Our New Zealand women who went to India and married there did so of their own free will and with the convictions they had in their own hearts,” he said.

“Some of those people have also returned to New Zealand with their families, and then gone back to India. Family relatives from New Zealand also visit them regularly.”

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