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Society for the Protection of Auckland Harbours

1 September 2016

The independent Charities Registration Board (the Board) decided that the Society for the Protection of Auckland Harbours (the Society) does not meet registration requirements.

The Board found the Society’s purpose to advocate for the wellbeing of the Auckland Harbours and the Hauraki Gulf was not charitable, therefore the application was declined.

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 and asks:

  1. What end goal does the organisation want to achieve?
  2. How does the organisation intend to achieve its goal?
  3. What particular methods will the organisation use to achieve its goal?

Each of these questions was considered in light of previous cases in assessing whether the Society advances a charitable purpose and provides a benefit to the public.

The Society’s end goals included the beautification and improvement of public amenities, and the protection of the environment. The Board considered both of these goals were capable of being charitable. However, the Society’s end goals also included the economic development of the Auckland waterfront, which the Board did not consider to be charitable.

To achieve their ends, the Society advocated to prevent the Ports of Auckland (the Ports) expanding into the Auckland Harbours, and to relocate the Ports from the Auckland Central Business District. Given the competing views about the benefits of Ports expansion and relocation, the Board considered it was not in a position to determine a charitable public benefit when all of the potential consequences of moving or preventing the expansion of the Ports of Auckland were taken into account.

In making its decision, the Board had noted it was not taking a position on whether or not relocating the Ports of Auckland would be in fact the best outcome for Auckland.

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