Cult-like groups are on the rise in New Zealand. Now the two-part Inside New Zealand: How To Spot A Cult documentary uncovers what really goes on inside these often controversial groups. Inside New Zealand: How To Spot A Cult kicks off on Wednesday, November 25th at 9:30pm, and concludes on Wednesday, December 2nd.
“These former members have consistent stories about how the different organisations actually work,” explains producer Gary Scott, “and the techniques they say were used to control them, even though the belief systems can be miles apart.”
“The modern rise of cult-like groups is not something experts can easily quantify, but there is a proven trend away from mainstream churches, towards other forms of spirituality. There has been a lot of talk about Destiny Church, since the covenant of 700 followers.”
The two-part documentary consists of ex-believers’ stories, and investigates the similarities they say exist between groups including the Exclusive Brethren, Scientology, Centrepoint, Gloriavale, Avatar and the International Church of Christ.
The documentary includes abuse survivors who have never spoken before, including the first ever interview with a young woman born into the controversial Centrepoint commune, the first of her generation to speak out.
How To Spot A Cult also features Ualesei Vaega, a New Zealand survivor from Waco, Texas, where an FBI seige ended with the death of 86 followers of David Koresh in a devastating fire.
“As you would expect, the effects of something like Waco are deeply traumatic,” Scott continues. “Ualesei Vaega’s story is even more powerful because he witnessed Koresh go down the path of collecting guns, having sex with young girls, and yet Ualesi came back to New Zealand even though people around him were too deeply brainwashed to make that key decision to leave.”
Ualesi Vaega lost his brother, sister in law and many good friends in the tragic fire. As the documentaries show, a similar armed stand-off was only narrowly avoided in New Zealand at Camp David, a walled compound north of Christchurch.
“The scary things about Camp David,” says Scott, “is that when the police raided their weapons stockpile, the members were hidden and watching them arrive through rifle scopes. Many of those guys had military training. Even today, some say there is still a stockpile of weapons buried on the West Coast.”
How To Spot A Cult will reveal all this as well as the tactics cult-watchers and academics say should warn people that a group may want total control of their followers’ lives.
Make sure not to miss the first instalment of this two-part documentary when Inside New Zealand: How To Spot A Cult – Part One screens on Wednesday, November 25th at 9:30pm on 3.