The Gloriavale Christian Community wants a public road near its compound closed to prevent attacks from outsiders.

The community says the proposed Heaphy Road closure is not aimed at limiting access to hunters, but to prevent vandalism, including spilling of milk and deer being let out.

This week, former members of the community spoke about their difficult time in the secretive Christian group.

TVNZ's Sunday programme reported 65 people had left in the past eight years, including 22 in the past two months.


In November, the Grey District Council agreed to close a section of the road after a request from Gloriavale, despite public objections.

The issue is set to go before the Environment Court for a ruling. The road provides access to the Haupiri River and hot pools, though people doing so must cross Gloriavale land once they reach they end of the road.

Gloriavale leader Fervent Stedfast said community members needed to protect themselves from "the small element who from time to time invade our privacy to steal, destroy and cause personal offence".

"There has been a very small minority of people who have used this short section of the legal road inside our property to gain access illegally into our private land to shoot prime deer on our farm, let all the milk out of our 24,000-litre milk silo, tip out valuable dairy semen, and break into our lodges and other buildings to steal valuable equipment."

Two weeks ago people illegally trespassed and cut down fences and let deer out, he said.

"Other trespassers have caused offence to our people and even our children. Please remember that this is the private home of 540 people, including over 300 children, and our school and early childhood centres use this property extensively."

Council chief executive Paul Pretorius said the matter would be with the court soon.

"It is on its way to the Environment Court, which must set a date, then the objecting parties must decide if they want to proceed with their objections."


"...The road goes nowhere. The general public can use it, with [Gloriavale's] permission, which they have done for many years. Nothing has changed."

The council agreed to proceed to the court on the condition the Christian community paid its legal costs.

Fish and Game West Coast manager Dean Kelly said about three or four people were stopped a year.

"Although we want to believe [Gloriavale], that they will continue to let people up a public road, the track record isn't very good."

Mr Kelly said there needed to be public interest to close the road.

"Fish and Game fail to see the public interest in the Grey District Council stopping the road.

"They are giving away future access to that river."

- Greymouth Star