Gloriavale’s future is now in the hands of the Employment Court chief judge who is deciding whether or not six former residents were employees or volunteers.
Their lawyer, Brian Henry, closed submissions by describing them as enslaved while living at the reclusive Christian community.
Welcoming the last day of an employment hearing that’s probed their way of life, senior leaders of Gloriavale arrived to hear the plaintiff’s counsel deliver the closing submission on behalf of six former female members, who argue they were employees while living and working at Lake Haupiri.
“The plaintiffs were born into these societal rules and knew of no other way of life,” the plaintiffs’ lawyer Brian Henry said.
A key argument was the lack of freedom to make individual choices.
“Having entrapped them, they also enslaved them,” Henry said.
The court heard first-hand claims of what it was like to work at Gloriavale.
“Their evidence is they worked early, they worked late, they worked, they worked, they worked,” Henry said.
Painting a picture of control by the community’s all-male leaders.
“These women are dominated from birth. They are controlled from birth,” Henry said.
Seven months of on-and-off hearings have come to an end.
“It is the court’s role to determine the question of employment status. The court is not engaged to determine questions of faith or doctrine,” council assisting the court Robert Kirkness said.
Chief Judge Christina Inglis will now consider all arguments.
“This court has the power, it has the tools and the law and, excuse the pun, it has the courage to say today, ‘Enough’. Thank you, your honour,” Henry said.
A judgement is expected later this year. One that won’t change the past but could shape the future of Gloriavale.