National Council of Women NZ a charity again but vows to keep bite

Timaru Herald (11 May 2013) reports: Timaru National Council of Women New Zealand members are celebrating the organisation regaining its charitable status after a 2 -year battle.

NCWNZ lost its registration in 2010, one year after being first registered as a charity, due to its alleged political lobbying.

Timaru council president Avril Demetriades said they were shocked when they lost the charity status as they had not changed what they had been doing.

“We are not party political, we treat all governments the same and give them hell when we think they need it.”

She said all types of people benefited from NCWNZ’s work, not just women and children.

Its budget did not allow for an appeal against the deregistration at the time; instead it reapplied.

National president Elizabeth Bang said the successful reapplication was backed up by boxes of evidence on the organisation’s activities.

New Zealand was the first NCW in the world to be deregistered, which Mrs Bang said was quite ironic.

“We were the first country to give women the vote.”

She said it had been worth persevering as the lack of registration had affected the council badly, as it could not apply to trusts for funds without it and was dependent on membership fees only.

The organisation did not have a single focus as it had members who were far Left and far Right in their views and it would continue to make submissions on a variety of issues, Mrs Bang said.

“We have proven education, and public benefit and we are not for profit.”


Established in 1896 at a women’s convention in Christchurch with suffragette Kate Shepherd. Its aim is to serve women, family and community through research, information, representation and action. There are 23 branches throughout New Zealand, and about 4500 members. which includes those who do not belong to a branch


Story by Esther Ash-Coventry. 11 May 2013

Fairfax NZ News

The Vegan Society of Aotearoa – a registered charity serving the “public good”

“The Vegan Society of Aotearoa” was registered as a charity with the Charities Commission on 15 September 2010 (Charity Reg. No. CC45333). However, there has never been any legally incorporated entity by this name in New Zealand (e.g. incorporated charitable trust or incorporated Society etc.). “The Vegan Society of Aotearoa” is an unincorporated “Trust” with its “Trust Deed” dated 1 May 2010 specifying three trustees on its “Board”, available on the Charities website ( Two of the founding trustees are still current officers for “the Trust”, two two new trustees were appointed in 2011.

Under section 15 of the Charities Act 2005, if the Commission is to register any legally constituted entity as a charity, it must only do so under the applicant’s full and correct legal name (see Appendix I below).

It is important to understand that “Veganz the Vegan Society of New Zealand Charitable Trust“, a Charitable Trust (Reg. No. 1230157) incorporated on 31 July 2002, is legally distinct from “The Vegan Society of Aotearoa“- an unincorporated “Trust”. The former is NOT registered with the Charities Commission.

One must wonder whether the Charities Commission Registration Team ever accessed the “Search Other Registers” on the Companies Office website ( to determine whether or not The Vegan Society of Aotearoa was a registered incorporated legal entity. It is not.

The Vegan Society of Aotearoa” was granted “charitable status” under charity law in 2010 and was assessed by the Charities Registration Team as “benefiting the public, or a section of the public”, in a manner that was “identifiable”, “clear”. and “related to its charitable aims”. Its Purpose is set out under s. 3 of its “Trust Deed” dated 1 May 2010:

The purpose of the Trust will be to promote veganism as an environmentally friendly, healthy and compassionate way of life. In particular the Trust will….”

3.1 further the knowledge and interest in sound nutrition and veganism, and in vegan methods of agriculture and food production as a means of increasing the agricultural potential of Aotearoa, to the physical, economic and moral benefit of all living beings.

3.2 provide a means of  social contact and exchange of information for new and existing vegans by way of regional social support and provision of resources.

3.3 develop and maintain positive relationships with organisations sharing similar aims.

3.4 encourage the research, study and use of alternatives to all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

3.5 take any action consistent with this charitable purpose.

After a thorough inquiry into the activities, ‘doctrines’ and objects of  this [unincorporated] “Trust”, the Charities Commission accepted that the exclusive primary “beneficiaries” of this charity were “vegens”, who are all required to pay membership fees.

According to section 2 of the registered Trust Deed dated 17 July 2002 of  Veganz the Vegan Society of New Zealand Charitable Trust (an incorporated entity which is not a registered charity):

A Vegan is a person who knowingly chooses not to consume, use or wear any products produced from animals or which contain animal by products; and avoids products that have been tested on animals or involves cruelty or abuse of animals in their research or production stages. Veganism stands for respect and compassion for animals (including the human animal).”

The Vegan Society of Aotearoa provides a list of all the animal items prohibited for vegans: “meat (fish, shellfish, livestock or poultry) eggs, dairy products, honey, gelatine or use of leather belts, fur silk, wool, cosmetics or soaps derived from animal products.” (Source:

The Charities Commission has graciously granted The Vegan Society of Aotearoa permission to vastly extend the official public record of the “beneficiaries” to their Society’s “charitable activities” to effectively include: all animals used as a source of meat and/or other food product by man, and all those used as a source of health products and/or clothing materials. Many of these animals are indeed true “beneficiaries” of the charity as they owe their very lives to the charitable work of Vegans, who actively persuade fellow New Zealanders to desist and abstain from their “moral crimes” against the Animal Kingdom (e.g. eating animals and using their by products), and jump on board the Vegan lifestyle bus to help green the planet and save its bio-diversity.

The Vegan Society of Aotearoa promotes “protection of animals”, “conservation” and “the environment” according to the Charities Commission website. Such broad activities have been ruled by the Commission to be “charitable purposes”.

In a sense, all its “charitable activities” can be viewed as detrimental to much of our New Zealand farming industry that forms the backbone of our export trade. Urging people to desist and abstain from eating meat and all other animal products would be viewed by most New Zealanders as detrimental economically to the “public good”.

Most ordinary and reasonable New Zealanders would reject the view that providing vege recipes and information of Vegan food outlets on a website to Vegans and sponsoring vegetarian family fun-days where vegan charity members and friends can delight themselves in the  partaking of vege food, constitute “charitable activities”. They would see no “public benefit” in allowing paid up members of  to pursue their own private lifestyle choices.

Everyone has the right to pursue a vegan lifestyle, or for that matter naturalism, as a lifestyle choice, or  any indeed other private hobby. Both vegans and naturalists claim to offer health rewards to those who embrace their respective lifestyle choices. Both claim a vast body of research evidence supporting the superiority of their respective  lifestyles compared to normal lifestyles (eating meat and wearing clothes).

Both have followers that actively expose themselves to the public to win over public empathy and support and recruit new members to the ‘faith’. There are many vegans who are “animal rights activists” and take part in protests ‘baring all’. Yes nudity is regularly their favoured tool to win recruits and lobby for their political views. Who can forget those grim animal rights promotional photos of nude men and women hunched over in foetal positions confined within battery hen cages?

The six million dollar question is:

Should groups of naturalists and/or vegans be granted “charitable status” based on their claims that their lifestyle choices positively impact society or a group within society, to such a significant extent that they provide “public benefit” and “the moral benefit of all living beings”?

The Charities Commission has clearly given a positive answer to this question, ruling that the purposes of The Vegan Society of Aotearoa are “charitable” and come under one of “the four charity heads” (e.g. presumably “advancement of education”).

The Vegans website states:

“The society is a friendly, informative and professional organisation. It offers resources, information, event notifications, product advice, vegan role models,  recipes and support systems. We put out a quarterly magazine and advise on many things via the website.”

Its homepage mouth-watering articles include: …. “OUR TOP PICK: Navigating the ethically treacherous waters of chocolate.” and “Veg-Yummy Places .. [re] vegetarian-friendly or vegan restaurants.”

The 20010/2011  financial accounts of The Vegan Society of Aotearoa that were required to be filed with the Charities Commission no later than 30 September 2011, have yet to be filed and are now almost twelve months overdue. And yet Despite this very serious breach of the Charities Act 2005, this unincorporated Society has not been deregistered or removed from the Charities Register.

The former Chief Executive of the now disestablished Charities Commission, Mr Trevor Garrett, was recently reported by The Hutt News as saying

“… charitable organisations registered with it [the Commission] that had not filed returns six months after the end of their financial year were sent a reminder letter. They get a more “strongly worded” reminder a month or two later and at around three months overdue – which is where HMCT is – “we get to the stage where we look at de-registering. That’s how seriously we take it.”

Mr Garrett had been asked for comment by the paper’s editor, Mr Simon Edwards, on whether or not “The Hutt Mana Charitable Trust’s persistent late filing of financial returns risks it being struck off by the Charities Commission, losing its tax exemption status.”

Dr Carolyn Corderoy, a senior lecturer in Victoria University’s School of Accounting and Commercial Law, who has been engaged in a detailed research investigation into the compliance failures of charities being ‘monitored’ by the Charities Commission with respect to their financial returns, and who was referred to in The Hutt News; has concluded that the levels of non-compliance by charities in New Zealand raises serious concerns.

According to the Charities website (, The Vegan Society of Aotearoa last filed its financial accounts with the Charities Commission for its financial year ended 31 March 2010. These accounts, uploaded onto the Charities website on 6 October 2011, reveal that its total gross income was $2,950 – sourced from $935 donations and $2,015 from membership fees. Its total expenditure in the year was $306 and the net surplus was $2,644.

It is run with the services of five voluntary staff involving an average about 20 hours of combined work from them, on average each week. There are no paid workers or employees.

It appears that the Charities Commission Registration Team have seen fit to grant The Vegan Society of Aotearoa charitable status under the “third head” [“Advancement of education”] of Lord Macnaghten’s four heads of charity.  It recognises its primary charitable contribution is to be “Community Development” in the specialist roles of “education/training/research”).

Vegan recipes have niche and no-doubt financially lucrative markets on a global scale. Animal activism and vegan charities go hand in paw.

Vegan education is advancing thanks to the Charities Commission, fostered and nurtured via the promulgation of vegan lifestyle teachings and practices.

The “public benefit” gained from New Zealanders embracing the doctrines, teachings and lifestyle patterns of vegans or coming under their influence has been positively grasped in full by the Charities Commission. The uptake  by true believers of the vegan lifestyle will undoubtedly issue in a more holistic, green and animal friendly planet… surely a truly charitable goal for any charity registered by the Charities Commission.


1. Charitable Trust late again with returns, agm

The Hutt News. 3 April 2012. By Simon Edwards

“Dr Carolyn Cordery, of Victoria University’s School of Accounting and Commercial Law, took a quick look at HMCT’s trust deed last week and said to be four months’ overdue on filing and holding an annual meeting was “poor”. ”

2. Trust Deed of VEGANZ: The Vegan Society of New Zealand Charitable Trust dated 14 December 2004.

3. Application For Incorporation Of A Society As A Board. Dated 17 July 2002. Received from VEGANZ by National Processing Centre 31 July 2002.

4. Trust Deed of VEGANZ dated 17 July 2002






15 Name of entity

The name of an entity complies with this section if—

  • (d) the entity is established, or constituted, by an Act under that name; or

  • (e) in any other case, in the opinion of the Board, the name is not—

    • (i) offensive; or

    • (ii) liable to mislead the public.

Section 15(e): amended, on 1 July 2012, by section 16(1) of the Charities Amendment Act (No 2) 2012 (2012 No 43)

Charity Law – “public benefit” v. “gravely injurious to the public benefit” – re Anti-vivisection Society objects

“In the Anti-vivisection Society case [National Anti-Vivisection Society v IRC [1947] 2 All ER 217], the principle was clearly stated in that any assumed public benefit from the advancement of morals amongst people, which could, or might, result from the society’s efforts to abolish the practice of vivisection was far outweighed by the detriment to medical science and research, and consequently, to the public health, that would result if the society succeeded in its object.”

[Comment 1: This detrimental impact was defined and proved to the Court – see below]

“[The] Main object of The National Anti-Vivisection Society (“NAVS”) was the “total abolition of vivisection and (for that purpose) the repeal of the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876, and the substitution of a new enactment prohibiting vivisection altogether.”

[Comment 2: Such an extreme abolitionist object cannot be compared to or seen to be in any way analogous to one that merely seeks to “focus attention on the harmful nature and consequences of [some vivisection]. Nor can it be seen to be analogous to a charitable entity’s object that seeks “to foster public awareness of the benefits to social economic and moral welfare of [the] community” by reducing our dependence on live animal experimentation to test products in industry etc. Fostering public awareness through education of the perceived ‘moral evils’ of “cruelty to animals” is central to a wide range of “animal rights” registered charities in New Zealand (e.g. SAFE – Save Animals From Exploitation.]

[Comment 3: NAVS expressed its extreme abolitionist campaign (the TOTAL abolition of vivisection) by indulging in blatant “political advocacy” – pressing for the repeal of legislation and its substitution by a new enactment. An analogous example of this political activity is the case of a certain New Zealand Family-oriented charity pressing for the repeal of the ‘anti-smacking legislation’ and its substitution by legislation incorporating the proposed “Burrows amendment”. Other analogous examples are charities like Barnados and Save the Children that aggressively pressed for the repeal of the s. 59 clause in the Crimes Act 1961 and lobbied for its substitution by the ‘anti-smacking legislation’ championed by Green Party ex-MP Sue Bradford].

“On balance the object of the society [NAVS] was [ruled to be] gravely injurious to the public benefit and hence could not be charitable. Lord Simonds protested against the notion that the court must see a charitable purpose in the intention of the society to benefit animals and thus elevate the moral character of men but must shut its eyes to the injurious results to the whole human and animal creation. … [that would follow total abolition of vivisection].

“It was proved that: – (a) a large amount of present day medical and scientific knowledge is due to experiments on living animals; (b) many valuable cures for, and preventatives of disease have been perfected by means of experiments on living animals, and much suffering both to human beings and to animals has been either prevented or alleviated thereby. If vivisection were abolished, a very serious obstacle would be placed in the way of obtaining further medical and scientific knowledge calculated to be of benefit to the public. Any assumed public benefit in the direction of the advancement of morals amongst people, which could, or might, result from the society’s efforts to abolish vivisection was far outweighed by the detriment to medical science and research, and, consequently, to the public health, that would result if the society succeeded in its object. On balance the object of the society was gravely injurious to the public benefit. It was not charitable.

“Where on the evidence before it the court concludes that however well-intentioned the donor, the achievement of his object will be greatly to the public disadvantage, there can be no justification for saying that it is a charitable object…. The test is to be applied from evidence of the benefit to be derived by the public or a considerable section of it, though a wide divergence of opinion may exist as to the  expediency, or utility of what is accepted generally as beneficial. The court must decide whether benefit to the community is established. He cited with approval authority to the effect that:

There is probably no purpose that all men would agree is beneficial to the community: but there are  surely many purposes which everyone would admit are generally so regarded, although individuals differ as to their expediency or utility. The test or standard is, I believe, to be found in this common understanding.” But, the court must still in every case determine by reference to its special circumstances whether or not a gift is charitable.

“4.6 Where a particular practice or doctrine includes something contrary to the law in England and Wales, or in contradiction of public policy, public benefit cannot be established and hence the body will not be a charity (despite the public benefit otherwise established from the totality of the practices and doctrines).”

[Comment 4: A charity that merely seeks to “focus attention on the harmful nature and consequences of [some human activity e.g. smoking, alcohol abuse, fraud, corruption, human pollution of the environment, or the destruction of Monarch Butterfly habitats etc], rather than using political means to abolish such activities by seeking to change the law, cannot be accused of indulging in non-charitable activities. The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 protects the fundamental rights of those involved in charities to impart information and inform people, promote debate etc on controversial topics. It safeguard’s New Zealanders rights to “freedom of expression”. The majority of fair-minded New Zealanders would NOT view the expression of views by registered charity workers, that are pertinent to fulfilling the charitable objects of a charitable entity – e.g. “supporting] responsible freedom of expression”, as in breach of the The Charities Act 2005].

Source of extracts quoted above:

Analysis of the law underpinning Public Benefit and the Advancement of Moral or Ethical Belief Systems.

Charity Commission. September 2008. pp. 6, 9.

Note: SPCS Comments 1-4. inserted in square-brackets…[…]

Legal test of “public benefit” applied to charities: the Church of Scientology (England and Wales) fails test

The Church of Scientology (the Church) is an international organisation which promotes a belief system, doctrines and practices known as Scientology. The Church has its international headquarters in the United States…. The Church has now now established a company incorporated under the Companies Acts and limited by guarantee called Church of Scientology (England and Wales) (CoS) to further its work in this country. In September 1996, CoS applied to the [Charity] Commission [for England and Wales] for registration as a charity pursuant to section 3(2) of the Charities Act 1993

CoS argues that it is a body established for the charitable purpose of the  advancement of religion under the third head of charity law, or, in the alternative, if not so established, that it is established for a charitable purpose which promotes the moral or spiritual welfare or improvement of the community under the fourth head of charity law. Whether under the third head or fourth head of charity law, CoS argues that it is established for the public benefit…

The Commissioners having considered the full legal and factual case put to them by CoS, and having reviewed the  relevant law, taking into account the principles embodied in ECHR [European Convention on Human Rights] where appropriate, decided that CoS was not established for charitable purposes or for the public benefit and was therefore not registrable as a charity under section 3(2) of the Charities Act 1993.

In making that determination the Commissioners further concluded that:

(1) The CoS is not charitable as an organisation established for the  charitable purpose of the advancement of religion because, having regard to the  relevant law and evidence, Scientology is not a religion for the purposes of English charity law.

(a) The Commissioners, considered that the legal authorities establishing the meaning of religion in charity law were ambiguous, but having construed such authorities in a way compatible with ECHR they concluded that the definition of religion was characterised by belief in a supreme being and  an expression of belief in that supreme being through worship. Re South Place Ethical Society [1980] 1 WLKR 1565, Dillon J at p. 1572 D-E.

(b) … The Commissioners concluded that Scientology believed in a supreme being.

(c) The Commissioners decided that the criterion of worship would be met where the belief in a supreme being found its expression in conduct indicative of reverence or veneration for the supreme being….

The Commissioners decided that auditing and training do not constitute worship as defined and interpreted from legal authorities.

(2) That CoS was not established for the charitable purpose of promoting the moral or spiritual welfare and improvement of the community.

(a) The Commissioners considered that CoS was not analogous to the established legal authorities which governed this area of the law. Re Scowcroft [1898] 2 Ch 638, Re Hood [1931] 1 Ch 240, Re Price [1943] Ch 422, Re South Place Ethical Society. They concluded CoS was not analogous to the decided cases because it promoted a formal and highly structured system of belief (which it regarded as a religion), necessitating membership of or adherence to a particular organisation for access to or participation in its doctrines, practices and beliefs such that these were not generally available to the public at large. However the Commissioners further concluded that these legal authorities were ambiguous.

(b) The Commissioners considered and interpreted these authorities compatibly with the ECHR and concluded that the key aspects of the charitable purpose of promoting the moral and spiritual welfare or improvement of the  community which could be discerned from these authorities was that the doctrines, beliefs and practices involved were generally accessible to the public and capable of being applied or adopted by them according to individual judgement or choice from time to time in such a way that the moral and spiritual welfare or improvement of the community might result, Re Price, Cohen J at 423. Accordingly, the Commission concluded, it would be possible for non-religious belief systems promoted by a membership organisation to be established for such a purpose if those criteria were satisfied.

(c) The Commissioners considered in relation to the doctrines and practices of CoS whether these were so accessible and capable of such application, but concluded that because of the nature and organised practice of the beliefs of Scientology they were on balance neither so accessible nor could be so applied such that the moral and spiritual welfare or improvement of  the  community might result.

(3) That CoS was not established for the public benefit.

In considering the legal test applied to organisations established for purposes falling within the first three heads of charity law in that they were entitled to the presumption of public benefit and the different legal test applied to the fourth head of charity law where public benefit had to be demonstrated, the Commissioners considered that such a distinction between the legal tests was consistent with ECHR…. For the fourth head of charity, public benefit needed to be established although there were cases where it may be self evident and need to be proved….

The Commissioners considered whether if CoS had been established for the charitable purpose of advancing religion, it was also established for the public benefit….

The Commissioners decided that in the case of CoS, the relative newness of Scientology and the judicial and public concerns which had been expressed about its beliefs and practices, led them to conclude that it should not be entitled to the  presumption of public benefit. Accordingly, it was for CoS to demonstrate that it was established for the public benefit….

The Commissioners considered that this test [of public benefit] must be applied to the core practices of such an organisation [as CoS] and not to incidental activities or other activities which may already be regarded as charitable.

After reviewing the practices of auditing and training, considered by CoS to be central features of the practice of Scientology, the Commissioners considered that these are in fact conducted in private and not in public and that in their very nature are private rather than public activities such that no legally recognised benefit could be said to be conferred on the public. It could not be concluded that the benefits of the practice of Scientology extended beyond the participants. Accordingly public benefit was not established.

The Commissioners went on to consider whether, if CoS had been established for a charitable purpose of promoting the moral or spiritual welfare or improvement of the community, it was also established for the public benefit. The Commissioners considered that it was for CoS to establish public benefit as this was a purpose falling within the fourth head of charity law. The Commissioners considered the relevant legal test of public benefit to be applied to organisations established under the  fourth head of charity. The Commissioners concluded that the test was that the whole tendency of charity in the legal sense under the fourth head is  towards tangible and objective benefits but that in the case of an intangible benefit that at least approval by the common understanding of  enlightened opinion for the time being would be necessary before an intangible benefit could be taken to constitute sufficient benefit to the community. National Anti-Vivisection Society v IRC [1948] AC 31, Lord Wright at p. 49. The  Commissioners considered that in the case of the purpose of promoting the moral or spiritual welfare or improvement of the community, and thus of CoS, the issue was one of intangible benefit and that in relation to intangible benefit the Commissioners considered the legal test to refer to a common consensus of opinion amongst people who were fair-minded and free from prejudice or bias.

The Commissioners considered the core practices of Scientology, namely auditing and training, and concluded that the private conduct and nature of these practices together with their general lack of accessibility meant that the benefits were of a personal as opposed to a public nature. Accordingly, following the legal test referred to above, public benefit had not been established.

Source: Extracts quoted from:

[The] Charity Commission [for England and Wales]. Decision of the Commissioners [4 pages]

Application by the Church of Scientology (England and Wales) for registration as a charity

[Made on 17th November 1999]

[Emphasis in original]

For full Decision see:


Promotion of mental or moral improvement as a general charitable purpose

“In Re Scowcroft [ [1898] 2 Ch 638] Stirling J. held that a devise … of a building “to be maintained for the furtherance of Conservative principles and religious and mental improvement” was a good charitable gift. The furtherance of religious and mental improvement was an essential portion of the gift and the gift might, as the judge observed, be supported on the ground that it was for the public benefit just as a gift of a library or museum would have been held to be a good charitable gift. Thus the decision did not depend solely on the element of mental improvement since there was also an element of general public utility. Similar considerations applied in Re Hood [ [ 1931] 1 Ch. 240] to a gift for the promotion of temperance otherwise than by political means. Both elements were present.

“In Re Price [[1943] Ch.422] the charitable character of the bequest depended exclusively on the element of moral improvement

On the evidence of the actual teachings apart from the evidence of benefit to individuals, Cohen J was satisfied that the teachings [of Dr. Rudolf Steiner – ] were directed to the mental or moral improvement of man and that they were not contra bonos mores. He held as a matter of law that the court was not concerned to determine whether the carrying on of the teachings of Rudolf Steiner would in fact result in the mental or moral improvements of anyone, and he did not find as a fact that they would. His Lordship’s finding of fact was that the teachings might have that result, and his conclusion of law was that this was sufficient to satisfy the requirement of public benefit.

“Although Cohen J. considered that the trusts of the residuary gift resembled trusts for the advancement of religion, he treated the gift as falling under Lord Macnaghten’s fourth head of charity.

“In Re South Place Ethical Society [[1980] 1 W.L.R.. 1565], Dillon J. held, as an alternative ground for his decision, by analogy with Re Scowcroft, Re Hood and Re Price, that the objects of the Society were charitable within the fourth head of Lord Macnaghten’s classification as being for mental or moral improvement.

“None of the cases considered provide a reasoned argument for the promotion of mental and moral improvement as a general charitable purpose, nor do they set any guidelines for the future application of this category of charity although the overall purpose is now fully acceptable as charitable

Extract from The Law and Practice Relating to Charities, 4th Edition Hubert Picardo QC (pp. 124-126)