A former Gloriavale member believes Hopeful Christian's original intentions for founding the community were good and pure, but that's not what the community has turned into.

Hopeful Christian, born Neville Cooper, died yesterday, after battling cancer.

He began the West Coast-based religious sect almost 50-years ago, and later serving prison time for sexual abuse charges.

David Ready, 19, left the sect two years ago.


He told Chris Lynch that Christian's motives went off track and he wouldn't listen to anyone.

"It just got worse and worse and worse and worse to the point that it is today, where it's not a very happy environment. Basically, the choice is be happy or don't be happy. Those are the same choices you'd get in jail."

Ready says he visits his family in Gloriavale - but the leaders don't like it at all.

He hopes they will be safer now that Christian is gone.

"His control, his power, his decision he makes, a lot of them have long term, harmful effects, and now that he's gone, a lot of them have died with him."

Ready says there won't be freedom in the sect, but at least someone else will take leadership.

However, a daughter of Christian has said the sect leader's death is not a time to place judgment.

Speaking to the Herald, the daughter, who requested not to be named, says she was taking space to grieve the loss of her father.

"We grieve what might have been. We reflect on a time when we loved, the longing for things to change, and the feeling of melancholy that things were not different.

"We grieve that the relationship now has no chance of mending," she says.

"Death closes the door on the unspoken hope of what might have been restored.

"Words are left unsaid. Feelings are left open and bare. Dreams for reconciliation remain only that – a dream.

"We grieve the loss of a part of our heritage and even though the relationship was broken, the passing involves someone who is a part of our lineage."

The daughter fled Gloriavale nine years ago, along with her partner and children, but she said her father gave her life and a heritage for which she is grateful.

"He now stands before his maker. It is no longer our place to judge.

"Everybody is shaped by their journey and it is up to us to choose what we make of it and who we become."

She finished by saying, "I honour my Dad today".