Gloriavale Christian Community is building a second commune to help house its growing population.
Boarded by native bush and private farms on the edge of Lake Brunner, the new village has been excavated and buildings have been moved there.
Consent was granted to relocate three dwellings and an unknown number of school buildings in 2021. Gloriavale was given permission to build a house “not attached to others” in 2023.
Senior leader Samuel Valor said the commune was running out of space, as the original site was designed for 400 people and is now home to almost 600.
“You need a police force because it becomes too big to handle just by relationships,” said Valor.
“There's only so many relationships someone can maintain so it becomes a top down sort of a composing of rules, composing of authority once you get to 500.”
The new site is about an hour’s drive from the existing Gloriavale near Lake Haupiri, on the West Coast.
The Employment Court, which is considering whether six former residents were employees or volunteers, heard that so far $3m has been spent.
Valor said the money had come from Gloriavale’s charitable trust and its businesses, which bought three land titles.
“We’re still deciding whether that is a separate community that has a separate income, that has a separate organisational structure, which has its own common purse,” said Valor.
The hearing is continuing.