New Zealand cults hit the world stage

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Is New Zealand a little bit culty? That question will be asked at the International Cultic Studies Association conference in Barcelona, Spain, next month.

That may not be how New Zealand likes to see itself on the world stage. Yet it indicates how interested the world’s cult experts are in the ongoing story of the Gloriavale Christian Community.

The community must seem like an anthropological experiment, a cult operating in real time, rather than something historical.

“It’s like a perfect microcosm of a cult you can study,” Christchurch journalist and author Anke Richter said.

Three New Zealanders will be explaining our cults in Barcelona. There is Liz Gregory, manager of the Gloriavale Leavers’ Support Trust. There is Caroline Ansley, a doctor who founded the Centrepoint Restoration Project. And there is Richter, whose journey into the cult world has gone from covering the fallout from Auckland’s notorious Centrepoint community to writing the book Cult Trip, which has just been published in the US, to organising a “decult” conference in Christchurch in October.

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