The Mirror reports…
“A secretive group which relies on 12 elderly men to arrange all relationships has opened its doors to the public.
Arranged marriages, regular prayer and bowing to the village seniors is all part of life at Gloriavale, a conservative Christian community based at Haupiri on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
With just 530 members, the group’s leaders have taken it upon themselves to matchmake through planning and prayer, as was revealed on a documentary on New Zealand television, Gloriavale – A World Apart.
Resident of Gloriavale Paul Valor explained: “The leaders – they have got lists of all bloodlines and so when you come and ask them to get married, they can get you a list of, you know, five or six girls who you can marry without any problems and they’ll all be within your age bracket … that’s what we call the shortlist.”
Paul, who is 22, was matched with Pearl Hope, also in her early 20s, in this way, and the pair are now parents to Esther and Josiah.
Pearl works at cooking, cleaning and laundry, while Paul is a manager at a meat meal factory.
The community earns its income from several ventures including dairying and the manufacture of gardening products made from sphagnum moss.
One of the oldest couples at Gloriavale, Rose and Steady Standtrue, have 57 great grandchildren, although Steady, 82, passed away when television production company Pacific Screens were filming the programme.
It’s been reported that those who leave the Christian community are shunned and denied contact with family members still remaining at Gloriavale, but residents of the isolated community say anyone is free to leave, and they grieve for them as if they’ve died.
Paul revealed: “That’s the end of it as far as we’re concerned, they can live their life and we will just live our life, that’s the way things are.
“I believe that the truth is here. When people leave here, they are leaving the truth behind.”
There are other reports that wives are subject to the decisions of their husbands,
The small group was founded in the late 1960s by Neville Cooper – known as Hopeful Christian.
He was given a jail sentence in 1995 for indecent assault on young girls and women.”