Gloriavale’s leader Howard Temple is being defended by his own granddaughter over claims he gave girls unwanted attention.
Joanna Courage is giving evidence at the Employment Court, which is considering whether six women were employees or volunteers at the West Coast commune.
The court earlier heard that senior women told girls to keep their distance from Temple as he was known to grope their legs and put his arm around their shoulders and waists.
Courage said her grandfather is well respected in Gloriavale and does not have a reputation for acting inappropriately.
“He would often ask if they cared about him doing it. On a few occasions girls have told him they didn’t like it so he stopped," she said.
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“He is always respectful of girls. I remember Rose telling me at one stage she had asked him not to give her a cuddle and she told me he had not touched her since."
Courage, who is studying towards a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, said, “I knew in myself God wanted this for me as well”.
“I am a Christian and read the Bible and I choose to follow the teachings of the Bible.
“I don’t contribute to our community because I am forced to, I want to because I want to be part of and contribute to the community."
Courage said that while communal living might be hard for someone outside of Gloriavale to understand, it was fundamental to their way of life and something she treasures.
She denied claims that women are made to work long hours without a break.
“The Bible says you have to put down what you want and share and give everything if you’re going to live for Christ. It is not the leaders who say this, it is the Bible.
“I love living with my family, my extended family and friends and think people who live alone with a small family would be lonely."
The hearing continues.