Former Greytown cult leader to feature in new documentary

Wairarapa Times-Age, New Zealand/April 9, 2009

The life and times of Wairarapa's infamous cult leader Andy Narain are likely to be included in a special two-part television documentary to screen later this year.

A privately-owned film and television production company in Wellington is researching the Narain case, along with other cults, for the TV3 documentary.

The idea is to tell viewers of the methods used by cult leaders to recruit people, how they keep them hooked and how hard it is for people to leave the cult of their own free will.

This will be done through social history, analysis and first-hand accounts from those who were former members of cults such as one-time members of the Narain commune situated in West Street, Greytown.

Amrit Lal (Andy) Narain died in Australia in 1998 a decade after being discredited as a self-proclaimed spiritual healer and having served two years in jail on 24 charges.

The soft-spoken, New Zealand-born Indian came to Greytown in the early 1970s as a market gardener and orchardist but in later years graduated to property development.

Initially he made money by buying land for housing on credit then stalling paying contractors until he was able to sell the full-serviced sections.

He then paid the banks back and pocketed the profit.

Eventually that way of conducting business collapsed and his company was wound up.

It was then Narain re-invented himself as a faith healer, managing to quickly convince people of his hidden powers and establishing a huge cult following especially on the East Coast of the North Island.

He set up and lauded over a controversial ashram in Greytown ultimately getting so far out of touch with reality that he fell foul of the police and was arrested.

Charged with a raft of offences, involving kidnapping, injuring with intent, indecent assault, cruelty to children, assault of females and common assault, he was jailed.

On his release he went to Fiji then to Sydney where he again managed to gather around him a smaller number of cult followers, including some New Zealanders who crossed the Tasman to be with him despite his earlier fall from grace.

Narain, who ironically never kept good health regardless of his claims of being able to heal others and who was a diabetic, died in Australia aged 62 from a heart attack as a complication of cancer.

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