Gloriavale Christian Community assets top $40 million

Gloriavale Christian Community, across from Lake Haupiri, on the West Coast.
SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Gloriavale Christian Community, across from Lake Haupiri, on the West Coast.

The Gloriavale Christian Community has opened up to defend its tax status as its assets reach more than $40 million. 

The community leaders took out a large advertisement in the Greymouth Star on Saturday after its financial statements were released online. 

An annual report filed to Charities Services last month shows the community's assets have reached $41.2 million, up from $36.6 in 2014. 

Neville Cooper, also known as Hopeful Christian, who leads the Cooperite sect at Gloriavale on the West Coast
Supplied

Neville Cooper, also known as Hopeful Christian, who leads the Cooperite sect at Gloriavale on the West Coast

"People are asking about our life, our trust, and if we pay tax," the advertisement said. 

READ MORE: 
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Gloriavale: Cult or idyllic society?  
Family leaves Gloriavale for new life in Timaru  
Will Gloriavale's West Coast commune survive?  
Gloriavale controversy not helping those inside, says former member

The advertisement said the community was made up of 550 people who had forsaken all in this life to follow Jesus. 

Gloriavale women and girls.

Gloriavale women and girls.

"We all live together in one place and have all things common. No one owns anything personally, nor lives to care for themself, but all work and share in love together to provide for everyone equally, including the widows and fatherless, and the aged, sick and infirm. We don't take any dependent welfare benefits like superannuation, sickness benefits, widows or domestic purposes benefits, unemployment benefits, nor any Accident Compensation cash payments or student loans," it said. 

Leaders received nothing extra. 

"To make this life possible, we registered a charitable trust, The Christian Church Community Trust, to own and provide all the land, buildings, livestock, plant and machinery... The trust funds are applied for religious and educational purposes, and to help people in need outside Gloriavale," it said. 

The trust did not receive any donations from outside the community. Funds came from founding members who had donated money from selling their land, houses and other assets and inheritance. 

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"These funds enabled to trust to purchase the initial land, buildings, livestock, plant and machinery, vehicles and other assets needed to live in the Christian Community. The Trust's land has greatly appreciated in value since then," it said. 

Since being set up, a number of companies were incorporated within Gloriavale to bring regular income into the community. These companies lease the trust's assets providing on-going income for the trust.

"All community members who provide labour services for these companies donate some of their personal income to the trust, after paying their own tax and ACC, as also do the staff in the community's school and early childhood centres," it said. 

"We pay standard company tax and personal tax. We never borrow money, take out mortgages, or charge or receive interest," it said. 

It welcomed new members who were willing to "embrace our New Testament faith". 

The annual report shows the trust received $2.8 million in donations and $3.2 million in income from service and trade operations in the year to July 2015.

The community's companies include Air West Coast, Forest Gold Honey, Prospect Energy and Caring Midwives.

It runs a large dairy farm and sphagnum moss export business. It spent $4.3 million including $57,834 on a public concert and $265,996 in gifts and donations. 

In the past year, the community has come under scrutiny by the Department of Internal Affairs who announced it was investigating the trust's charitable status.

The police and Child Youth and Family have been investigating the community after claims children had been subjected to physical abuse. No charges have been laid. 

There have been calls for the Ministry of Education to investigate Gloriavale's schools after claims the curriculum  "woefully inadequate".

It has been reported that hundreds of people had fled the community since Hopeful Christian, or Neville Cooper, set it up in 1969. Some have spoken out about how the leaders controlled community members, particularly women, and cut them off from the outside world.

 - Stuff

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