Former Gloriavale member: “Good and bad things and people exist in all communities”

Ben Canaan is disappointed there are so many sensationalised accounts of Gloriavale.

He thought the documentary aire late last month A Woman’s Place, which aired in late July, “accurately portrayed” parts of the community, but did not ask the hard questions.

He said good and bad things and people existed in all communities, but the bad seemed to be the focus of many of the Gloriavale documentaries and media coverage.

Seventeen months after leaving Gloriavale South Canterbury dairy farmer James Ben Canaan gave his first face-to-face interview on Wednesday.

Canaan admitted he had been reluctant to speak out for fear of his experience being wrongfully portrayed.

However, he changed his mind in the hope sharing his story might help New Zealanders understand the “real” Gloriavale.

While he was concerned the community had been portrayed incorrectly about abuse he was disappointed the past sexual abuse allegations were not discussed.

He said child abuse was not condoned in Gloriavale at all. Howver he was disappointed the documentary did not ask questions about why the community was not informed that Gloriavale leader Hopeful Christian, was convicted of indecent assault in the mid 1990s.

“99 per cent of Gloriavale members believe those things never happened”, he said.

“If the people of Gloriavale knew the truth about the allegations, the place would fall apart,”

The leaders held up on a pedestal with high regard “would fall to pieces”.

“There were other sides of life that weren’t touched”.

A lot of the members were happy with life, but he knew of people “who aren’t happy there, too”.

However, this perspective would not come out as people who were unhappy would not be interviewed, he said.

“Everything done is put past the leaders for approval.”

But there were a lot of good things in the community, he said.

“Gloriavale is a very stress-free life. Everything is well organised and everyone looks after each other. ”


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