Education Review Office reviewing Gloriavale School after Employment Court case

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Gloriavale School is under review by the Education Review Office, the Ministry of Education has confirmed.

Serenity Pilgrim, Anna Courage, Rose Standtrue, Crystal Loyal, Pearl Valor and Virginia Courage took Gloriavale’s leaders to court, arguing they lived in servitude working on the West Coast commune’s domestic teams and were not community volunteers.

Last week, Employment Court Chief Judge Christina Inglis found the six women, who lived in the Gloriavale Christian community, were employees while working on the teams, after being primed for the job and taught from birth to submit to male leadership in all aspects of their lives.

In her findings, Judge Inglis said members of the closed Christian community accepted girls were only provided an education to the extent it prepared them for life in the sect.

“The Overseeing Shepherd went further, accepting that children are educated so that they are not equipped for the outside world, and that part of the leadership strategy is to ensure that children are kept separate from the outside world in order to keep them within the Community,” the judge said.

“The Overseeing Shepherd also explained the desirability of keeping the broader congregation away from the outside world, a concept referred to as “Separation” within What We Believe.”

Brian Henry, who represented the six Gloriavale leavers in the case, told RNZ’s Checkpoint the community treated women as “third-rate citizens”.

“How does the ERO [Education Review Office], who’s regulating this school, work that out with their report saying this is a good school?” Henry said.

“This is a school training slaves and we’ve got a government agency saying ‘that’s okay’ or didn’t they recognise it?

“How did the Labour Inspectorate, these are experts, go there and not see what was going on?

“They can work it out when they go to these ethnic groups that they’ve been chasing around for slavery. Why didn’t they see it going into this so-called Christian organisation? Are they blinded by Christianity or are they looking at reality? The reality here is these are enslaved women.”

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