|Kiwis Against Seabed Mining Incorporated appealed this decision of the Charities Registration Board in March 2017, but abandoned its appeal on 7 June 2017 prior to any appearance before the court.|
The independent Charities Registration Board (the Board) decided that Kiwis Against Seabed Mining Incorporated (the Society) does not meet registration requirements.
Although the Board considers the Society’s stated objects in its rules are capable of being charitable (for the advancement of education and protection of the environment), the Board found the Society also had a purpose to advocate to prevent seabed mining in New Zealand, which is not charitable.
When assessing an organisation that seeks to advocate a particular point of view, the Board applies the ‘three part test.’ This comes from a decision of the Supreme Court of New Zealand (Greenpeace(external link)) that requires the Board to consider:
To answer these questions, previous cases were reviewed in deciding whether the Society advances a charitable purpose and provides a benefit to the public.
The Society’s end goals included the protection of the environment, which is charitable. To achieve the Society’s ends it sought to oppose seabed mining applications through making submissions to decision making tribunals, advocating for law changes to prevent seabed mining, and promoting its views on seabed mining to the public.
The Board accepted some of the Society’s advocacy was charitable – where the Society sought to protect the environment through providing expert and objective evidence to assist resource management decisions. However, the Board found most of the Society’s activities were directed towards advocating its point of views on seabed mining, and promoting those views to the public.
Given the competing views and arguments regarding seabed mining, the Board considered it was not in a position to determine a charitable public benefit in the views of the Society when all the potential consequences of preventing or limiting seabed mining in New Zealand were taken into account. The Board did not consider the non-charitable purposes to promote the Society’s views were “ancillary” to the Society’s charitable advocacy.
In making its decision, the Board had noted it was not taking a position on whether or not permitting or preventing seabed mining would be for the benefit of New Zealand, but on eligibility as a charity under the Act.