Star of Gloriavale documentary appears at Employment Court

The star of a television show about Gloriavale never wants to be a leader of the West Coast commune because of her Christian beliefs.

Dove Steadfast, who was once known as Dove Love, was grilled about women's rights at Gloriavale during an Employment Court hearing to decide if six former residents were employees or volunteers.

Steadfast was a central figure in a programme called Gloriavale: A Woman's Place which showcased her wedding to Watchful Steadfast in 2016.

"Apparently I became quite famous, receiving many letters, emails and visits from people all over New Zealand.

"My husband and I were invited to Auckland and Wellington for some special events and even offered a free trip to America by some company who wanted me to speak at their show.

"I turned down these invitations with no pressure from the leadership," said Steadfast.

She said there was a lot of freedom for women "to do and be what they want to do without the leadership of the men dictating what they do".

The granddaughter of Gloriavale's founder, Hopeful Christian, conceded she would never be a shepherd or servant at Gloriavale because of her beliefs.

Steadfast said the Bible teaches that women should be in submission, first to God, and then to their husbands.

She denied allegations that women work long hours in slave-like conditions just cooking and cleaning.

"I do not appreciate the way our belief's faith and views are repeatedly discredited by statements implying that we are brainwashed," said Steadfast.

Lawyer for the Gloriavale leavers Brian Henry asked Steadfast what was new and stimulating about cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing, to which she replied: "It's always stimulating to me."

Henry also questioned her about how the family survived financially.

"You live on working for families, you don't live on the partnership money so dad does not bring home money for the family does he?" said Henry.

"Yes he does he pay. He works to provide housing and land for us to live on," said Steadfast.

The mother of five was the last to give evidence. The court will hear closing submissions next week.


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