Charities Services Ngā Rātonga Kaupapa Atawhai
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Better Public Media Trust v Attorney-General (Court of Appeal)

19 December 2023

Te Rātā Atawhai, the Charities Registration Board's (the Board) statement on the Better Public Media Trust Court of Appeal decision.

The Court of Appeal has decided that the Better Public Media Trust (the Trust) qualifies for registration as a charity. 

In 2019 Te Rātā Atawhai, the Independent Charities Registration Board (the Board), declined the Trust’s application for registration.

The Trust appealed the Board’s decision to the High Court. In March 2020, the High Court confirmed the Board’s decision that the Trust’s purposes are not exclusively charitable, and the Trust appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal postponed its hearing of the Trust’s appeal until after the Supreme Court had made its decision in the Family First New Zealand(external link) appeal.

In its unanimous decision dated 9 November 2023, the Court of Appeal has found that the Trust’s advocacy for the advancement of public media is charitable as a purpose beneficial to the community. In coming to its decision, the Court of Appeal noted that it had the benefit of further evidence from that presented in the High Court in relation to the Trust's recent activities, and was therefore in a stronger position than the High Court Judge to fully assess the evidence.

The Board welcomes the decision of the Court of Appeal, as it provides further guidance in a complex area of charities law.

As the decision-maker, the Board does not have an active role in Court appeals. In this case, the Attorney-General was joined as a party, reflecting their role as the ‘protector of charities’.

Role of the Board

The role of the Board is to maintain the integrity of the Charities Register by ensuring that entities on the Charities Register qualify for registration. The Board is independent and not subject to Ministerial direction. It makes charities registration decisions based on the facts before it, applying the relevant statutory and case law, and maintaining consistency of its approach with previous decisions. A purpose is charitable if it advances a public benefit in a way that is analogous to cases that have previously been held to be charitable.

View the Court of Appeal’s decision here. [PDF, 280 KB]

Court judgments