Secretive religious community’s profit for year to last July more than $1.86m but it’s a tax-exempt charity.

The secretive Gloriavale religious community owns assets worth $36.6 million, including a dairy farm, deer enterprise and an aircraft repair firm.

The tax-exempt charity operating as the Christian Church Community Trust is run by four church leaders and overseen by Hopeful Christian, who is referred to in documents as the "Overseeing Shepherd".

Assets and financial results of the West Coast Gloriavale Christian community are listed on the Charities Services website, a government agency which is part of the Department of Internal Affairs.

The trust's annual returns for August 2013 through July 2014 show it is worth more than $36.6 million and made a net profit of more than $1.86 million in that year.

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Former members Elijah Overcomer and Mordecai Courage told Campbell Live the trust owns everything in the community, and when members leave they take nothing with them. Mr Courage said he had spent his whole life in the community and worked for the benefit of the community, but was entitled to nothing after he left.

The 30ha farm in the Haupiri Valley where the community lives and works is worth $10,200,719, and no community members are paid for their work in its eight companies.

Donations made to the trust in the year totalled $1,502,286.48, while the total amount of contributions the charitable trust made to the community was less than 10 per cent of that, at $108,635.00.

Michael Gousmett, a former charity director and critic of tax-exemption, said the organisation was required to provide public benefit.

"What exactly are they doing that provides a public benefit?

"They're a highly commercial operation, and by all accounts very successful, but pay no income tax."

Dr Gousmett said the contributions to the community on the annual returns didn't provide a clear enough picture of their charity to the community. "What exactly are those community grants? We don't know where they go in the community, and do they mean their own community or the wider community?"

The annual returns show the trust carried out repairs and maintenance of $422,838.51 and bought more than $86,000 woodwork and building supplies. Most of that was likely sourced in Greymouth, but Dr Gousmett said any company would do the same in the area, and a charitable trust should go further.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the Gloriavale community had helped with clean-up after storms and tornadoes, and every year supplies buns and music to an annual Waitangi Day picnic.

More than 5000 people attended the Gloriavale public concert, on which the trust spent $197,575.96, Mr Kokshoorn said.

"They're definitely always helping our community when it's needed."

Mr Kokshoorn would not be drawn on whether the Christian Church Community Trust should be subsidised by taxpayers, but said he was not surprised that its businesses were doing well financially.

"Whether they deserve the [charity] status or not is not to do with me.

"They've got a very well-oiled business. They've got a huge dairy farm and a lot of other associated business, they've worked really hard."

He said the community members were often seen in town, liked to eat at KFC, and were "generally well-received" by other Grey District residents.

A Gloriavale representative would not immediately answer questions, and a response wasn't received by the time of publication.