The Gloriavale religious community on the South Island's West Coast has been in total lockdown for the past five days as it tries to avoid the coronavirus, senior community leaders have confirmed.
The decision by Gloriavale Christian Community to "shut down all outside contact" was made at the community breakfast table on Friday.
"And we've kept to that since then," Gloriavale's financial controller Fervent Stedfast, one of the community's "shepherds", told the Herald today.
The 500-member community nominates one person to venture outside the community at Haupiri some 45km inland from Greymouth for "essential purchasing on behalf of the whole community", Stedfast said.
On their return, they are isolated to live separately and won't have any contact with other members for 14 days.
There have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the West Coast.
Stedfast says he hopes it stays that way and said the already-remote community is coping well with the added isolation.
"We're carrying on with happiness and joy," he said.
New Zealand now has 155 confirmed and probable cases, with 40 new cases confirmed today, as the country moves into lockdown at 11.59pm tomorrow.
A former Gloriavale member, who now lives outside the community, said that for most members, life won't be any different.
"For 90 per cent of the people who live inside Gloriavale, they won't notice a single change," he said.
"A lot of members would rarely go outside the gate. They'll be the least-affected people around.
"They essentially run like a separate country and a lot of things will carry on business as usual inside."
Work and schooling will likely continue, he believes.
And he isn't surprised by Gloriavale leadership's "cautious" approach by going into lockdown before the rest of the country.
Members are already discouraged from widespread contact with the rest of society, he said.
"From a theological perspective, they'll be encouraging minimum contact and using it to suit them as well," he said.
"They'll be all for the lockdown – it won't affect them very much at all."
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Shoppers swarm supermarkets, alcohol stores before lockdown
• Coronavirus: Struggling retailers within malls might have to stay open or face penalties
• Covid-19 coronavirus: Crowds hit packed supermarkets after lockdown
• Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown: What is an 'essential' service that can stay open?