Family First goes to court over second deregistration decision

family first

Family First has made another bid to retain its charitable status.

The hearing at the High Court in Wellington this week is the second appeal after the Charities Board ruled in 2013 and again in 2017 that Family First be removed from the charities register.

When Family First appealed the 2013 decision, the High Court ordered the board to reconsider, which it did in 2017, again concluding the group should be removed.

This week Peter McKenzie QC, acting for Family First, said that even if a group’s causes were unpopular, that shouldn’t stop them being classified as a charity.

While Family First admits to promoting “traditional” values, it has now dropped the claim to religious charitable status.

“This is not a charity formed for religious purposes,” McKenzie said.

“It is simply formed with a statement of purpose relating to faith, but it is not religious in purpose.”

He argued that its activities seek to benefit all forms of families.

Justice Simon France questioned whether the research Family First conducted was “persuasion under the guise of research”, where the authors of research papers chose evidence to reflect the views they already held.

McKenzie said that their research aimed to benefit everyone and promote debate.

The Charities Board has not yet made its submissions to the High Court.

The hearing continues.

The first time the Charities Registration Board attempted to deregister Family First, it said the organisation did not “advance exclusively charitable purposes”.

But the High Court ordered the Board to take a second look at the issue in 2015, after Greenpeace had taken the issue to the Supreme Court to defend its own charitable status.

In the Greenpeace case, the Supreme Court ruled that groups can register as charities – even if they have a political purpose.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: ,