Fifty NZ charities make $1 billion total surplus

Fifty New Zealand charities made a total of NZ$1billion over and above what they spent in the last financial year.

A report on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp drew an analogy with the game of Monopoly, and placed some churches in the top “Park Lane” category.

These included the Salvation Army with a surplus of $24 million, and Auckland Catholic diocese with $13 million.

The report stated three Catholic dioceses – Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin – had about the same level of surplus.

But these were dwarfed by the figures for iwi, with Tainui at $200 million and Ngai Tahu at $160 million.

The report noted that charities have a tax-free status.

Seven Sharp reporter Hadyn Jones described the Catholic Church as “one of our richest religions”.

Speaking for Auckland diocese, Dame Lyndsay Freer confirmed the surplus figure.

While it seems like a big number, Dame Lyndsay said, “it’s peanuts really”.

There is “so much to be done”, including earthquake strengthening of churches and schools, as well as significant capital works and ongoing religious, charitable and educational activities.

The report also noted that Auckland diocese owns nearly NZ$1billion in assets, including St Patrick’s Cathedral.

“People of course always say, look at the Catholic Church with all our buildings and all our artwork, and all the rest of it,” Dame Lyndsay responded.

“But if we didn’t have the buildings, if we didn’t have the Churches and schools, we wouldn’t be able to gather as Catholics.”

Dame Lyndsay also reportedly noted that the Catholic Church does not demand tithing of its members.

The Salvation Army stated its surplus was much larger than usual this year because of investments maturing and Christchurch earthquake-related insurance payouts.

Canterbury academic Dr Michael Gousmett questioned whether some charities were growing empires, instead of concentrating on their charitable activities.

The Seven Sharp report noted that roughly five new charities are registered each day in New Zealand.

Of the 27,438 charities in New Zealand, 15,761 made a surplus in the last year.


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