Police are investigating allegations about offences at the Gloriavale community on the West Coast.

Gloriavale Leavers' Support Trust spokeswoman Liz Gregory said the allegations are of sexual offending by a teenage male against multiple boys in the isolated Christian community.

Police confirmed that they "have visited the property in recent days to make initial inquiries into a report received".

Oranga Tamariki deputy chief executive for south children and families services Alison McDonald said her staff had been on site at Gloriavale "over recent days".

Advertisement

The offender, aged 16, is believed to have offended against several boys, but only one complaint was laid with police.

Gregory said the complaint was not laid by a victim of the offending.

"It was an interesting way it came about, it was not the person themselves who made the complaint," she said.

"Someone has laid one complaint, and what has come out of that is an exposure of a much wider issue."

Stuff quoted an unnamed former member of the community saying that people in the community had been talking about the allegations for at least eight months.

"The leaders knew about it and had not gone to police," he said.

"As soon as [leader] Howard [Temple] found out a complaint was made to police he got in his car and drove to Greymouth to tell the police about it. At the same time as he was driving there, police were driving to Gloriavale," he said.

"It's part of the Gloriavale belief system that everything is dealt with inside and the police are not involved. There has been a lot of pressure in recent years to change that and the leaders have made some token gestures, but I know from living there that they don't really understand what a crime is."

Advertisement

Two senior leaders at Gloriavale were convicted last year for sexual offences - one unnamed man for indecent assault and unlawful sexual connection with a young person under the age of 16, and school teacher Just Standfast for sexual conduct with a child under 12.

Standfast, who was then aged 68, was sentenced to six months community detention but was allowed to continue living at Gloriavale, working on the community dairy farm.

The community's former leader Neville Cooper, also known as Hopeful Christian, served 11 months in prison in 1995 on sexual abuse charges.