A Gloriavale resident claims she had no choice but to sign the commune’s Declaration of Commitment.
Sharon Ready is giving evidence in the Employment Court, which is deciding whether six former residents were employees or volunteers when living there.
Sharon said all assets were supposed to belong to everyone who lived at Gloriavale.
She said there was discussion about changing from being a charitable trust to implementing a partnership agreement “so that we could go back to owning the things we had worked for”.
Sharon said the leaders would turn up with documents they wanted to sign.
“Until recently there was never any suggestion for the need of independent legal advice.
“As with all members of the community when we are expected to sign documents, it is not a matter of free choice as there is only one expectation that we sign without complaint,” said Sharon.
The court heard that given the structure of Gloriavale, individuals don’t have access to their own money.
Ready’s husband, Clem Ready, said women don’t have much say.
“Females from birth are conditioned to become hard working and indoctrinated to be cheap sweatshop style labour underpinning the whole financial structure of the community.
“They’re in the community to work hard, get married and have children. They are groomed from birth that they’ll be married and as soon as there married to provide unlimited sex to their husbands to become pregnant and become mothers of many children,” said Clem.
Gloriavale’s lawyer Phillip Skelton told the court the claim would be rejected.
“The women of Gloriavale who'll be giving evidence for the second defendants find such statements as that highly offensive and they say that that evidence is not true. They are not groomed to provide unlimited sex for their husbands.”
The hearing continues.