March 2013
In a remote part of the West Coast inland from Greymouth is a farm called Gloriavale. Its a multi-faceted farm business that supports a community in excess of 500 people.

The group began with about 30 people meeting in a hall in Rangiora in 1969.

In 1971, they started the Christian School at Springbank for 9 of their own children in a room of a farm homestead. They did not then have then $12 to build a simple paling fence at the front of the school. By 1990 they had grown to about 200 people living together as the Christian Community at Springbank, on a 60 ha farm at Springbank near Rangiora. Then in 1991, because they had outgrown that property, the members bought land on the West Coast beside Lake Haupiri, 65 km inland from Greymouth. They shifted there progressively between 1991 and 1995.

It is now called the Gloriavale Christian Community, and has about 500 members living together on one large farm property, including 133 young children and babies in their own 3 early childhood centres, and 144 students in their own primary and secondary school. They operate on New Testament Christian principles in all things and apply these practically to every area of their daily life. Members have come from a number of different countries, seeking truth and reality in life. A distinctive feature is that they follow the scripture, And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.(Acts 2:44,45).

There are four large, 3-storied residential buildings, a big 600 seat dining room and an equally large upstairs room used for many purposes, including Christian worship, meetings, and recreation. They have established a Christian Church Community in India on the same New Testament principles. By all accounts they are extremely good farmers quick to embrace best farm practice.

The home property is around 1700ha. On it they run several dairy farm businesses, a deer farm and stud, a sphagnum moss business, an aviation scenic flight, charter and repair operation, and a rendering plant that exports meal to the US for pet food. Theres also another 451 ha dairy farm on lease purchase, a 219 ha run off farm, and a separate 74.8 ha sphagnum moss farm.

Where possible, the community members are encouraged to learn the skills necessary to enable them to be self-sufficient. They build all their own buildings, maintain all their own vehicles and heavy machinery, do their general engineering, aircraft engineering and electronics; and much more besides.

The community grows and makes much of its own food, including bread, butter, icecream, cheese and yoghurt. They produce their own clothes, and try and tap into the skills and abilities of their own community for repairs and maintenance.

They do not borrow money. All their bank accounts are non-interest bearing. They dont take out insurance. Our faith is in God, we trust in Him to provide. There are no wages. The community shares the profits of its seven companies between the working members, who all pay tax. Farming is done by the men.

While some of the above may seem contrary to modern business practice, the farm businesses have embraced modern technology. DNA tracing, ET, AI and automation are all used. By all accounts it is a highly successful business making a massive contribution to the local economy.

Fervent Stedfast came to the community in 1970 as a 23 year old. He embarked on a search for truth which led him to this community. He is now a senior member and one of 14 leaders, called Shepherds and Servants.

In a recent interview Fervent said the community started off with one cow, grazed on the grass on the side of a country road. Today there are over 2,400 milking cows on three different dairy farms, plus about 1,550 replacements. The overall dairy operation is managed by Joshua Disciple.

The Gloriavale farm has an effective area of 400 ha, 1100 milking cows, and 390,000 kg milk solids predicted this season. The Glenhopeful farm across the Haupiri River has an effective area of 253ha ha, 540 milking cows, and 204,000kg milk solids predicted this season. The new farm at Bell Hill has an effective area of 350 ha, 800 milking cows, and 305,000 kg milk solids predicted this season.

The dairy farm uses the latest technology. In 2010 they installed a 54 bale rotary with a computerized livestock management programme connected to EID tagging on each cow. This provides for auto drafting, automatic individualized supplementary feeding for each cow, daily recording of production figures, and more besides.

Gloriavale Deer Park has been farming deer since 1982. They run around 2000 basic head of stock, which fluctuates with new births and sales. The base of the stud is red deer. They have a stag sale in January each year - this year it was at Mt Hutt Station.

The stud has emphasis on velvet, bodyweight, temperament, conformation and trophy. They have a range of bloodlines and cull strictly according to how those animals perform in the various markets they go into.

They want to provide the best genetics for their clients. The farm has done extensive AI and ET programmes over the years to improve performance .

They chase heavy velvet weights with the added bonus of that programme producing good trophy stages as well.

All offspring of the AI programme are DNA profiled at Invermay. All capital hinds and sires are also DNA profiled. Gloriavale velvet goes into Pure Vitality capsules.

The community provides a world class trophy hunting operation, offering top stags, buffalo, tahr, chamois, pheasants, other species, and fishing, with two quality, all timber, alpine lodges as accommodation for the hunters, as advertised on its wildernessquestnz website.

Gloriavale has another 74.8 ha property on which sphagnum moss grows in a natural wild state. This is harvested by hand, dried, processed and packaged by community members. Much of this is pressed by the communitys unique process into three dimensional liners for hanging baskets. 40ft containers of dried and processed moss products are exported each year, some to Japan, Australia and Europe, but most to a dedicated warehouse in USA, from which it is sold by the community directly to US garden centres, nurseries and distributors.