Charities employs nearly 100,000 people in New Zealand


According to the most recent annual returns provided to the Charities Service, registered charities employ nearly 100,000 people – comparable to the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries combined.

The sector collectively manages  $65b in assets

Maria Robertson is the deputy chief executive at Internal Affairs who has responsibility for the Charities Service.

She says that of the more than 28,000 charities on the register only one was deregistered for serious wrongdoing over the past year.

Another handful received formal warnings, with some of those voluntarily deregistering.

A series of investigation reports prepared by the Service, and obtained by the New Zealand Herald under the Official Information Act, show:

  • Some occasionally have trouble following rules about who is qualified to manage them. Those convicted of dishonesty offences are not permitted to do so.
  • Sometimes  fail to be sufficiently transparent. These failings raise the risk of funds going missing.
  • In several cases investigators found evidence that charities were being run for personal gain, not for charitable purposes.

An Internal Affairs Charities Service investigation dubbed “Operation Timepiece” into the New Zealand-registered Mulligan, Shepherd and Birdy Charitable Trusts Charitable Trust found some donations were made locally to Starship and Plunket.

However the vast majority of its distributions – almost $5m since 2012 – were directed offshore to a related Swiss entity.

Officials concluded the complex structure – involving multiple layers of entities from New Zealand, Switzerland, Panama and the Isle of Man, $140m in foreign currencies and a stock portfolio managed at Swiss banks – was likely designed to avoid the scrutiny of the United States’ Inland Revenue Service.


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News category: New Zealand.