'Evil, cannibalistic and demonic' - Gloriavale's view of Māori revealed

By Stefan Dimitrof

Former Gloriavale resident Constance Ready is healing from her time with the Gloriavale religious sect by finding joy in reconnecting with her Māori roots.

Ready talked about growing up at Gloriavale and explained why she left at a recent Real Talk event in Rotorua, which aims to inspire rangatahi with people with unique and challenging stories.

Ready talked to teaomāori.news about her experiences inside and outside of the religious sect.

She said she took time to review her time at Gloriavale to decide if she wanted to return back to the community or move on from them.

“I had to get away for a while to give myself a chance to make that decision about what I wanted to do.”

‘Crazy, controlling and manipulative’

Ready said the environment of Goriavale was one that was “crazy, controlling and manipulative”.

She said that while she stayed in Gloriavale she found that she wasn’t able to explore her Māori culture as she said the environment was racist and the cult viewed Māori as "an evil, cannibalistic and demonic culture".

“It wasn’t something that I was to be proud to say or even openly say I was Māori.”

Ready said it was difficult having to live within those restrictions while having a desire to know her Māori side.

“We don’t have internet access, we don’t have phones, no TV. So it wasn’t something we able to explore and discover”.

‘What the leadership want you to know’

Ready said she still has whanau in Gloriavale but finds it difficult to keep in contact with them.

“It’s a bit because you miss your whanau. Whanau is everything to us as Māori.”

“Having that disconnection and not being able to share the journey that I am on and reconnecting with my taha Māori and it's quite sad for me not to share that with them.”

Ready said that it was scary and difficult when she came to the decision that Gloriavale wasn't a healthy place and making the decision to leave was challenging as this life was all she knew.

“If that’s the choice you make, you know that you're leaving everything you know behind, you're leaving all your childhood friends, all your whanau. You're stepping into a world you know nothing about and that can be really scary.”

‘Reconnecting to my culture’

Ready said stepping out into this new world not knowing who she was was confronting. “I didn’t truly know who I was”.

“The best way to heal from my experiences to grow and be a full version of myself is to really connect to who I was as a person and I knew that lay with discovering Te Ao Māori and reconnecting to my culture”.

“I knew that would give me a massive key to who I was and help me understand the person that I was.”