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Registered Charities

Charities Commission's functions now part of Internal Affairs

On 31 May, Parliament passed the Charities Amendment Act (No 2) 2012, which wound up the Charities Commission as of 1 July this year, and moved its core functions to the Department of Internal Affairs.

The Commission's registration, education, and monitoring and investigation teams are now part of the Department of Internal Affairs, and operate as the Department of Internal Affairs - Charities.

A new, three-person Board will make decisions about the registration and deregistration of charities.  Decisions about registering or deregistering charities remain independent.

The changeover has been managed so that it was as smooth and "seamless" as possible, so the Commission's work and high standards of service remain in place, and so charities and members of the public can still access the services, information and support they need.

Here are the answers to some "frequently asked questions", which we'll keep updating as the transition progresses:

What impact will the change have for charities?

There will be no substantive changes for registered charities or for organisations applying for registration.

Charities should still apply for registration, and file Notices of Change and Annual Returns exactly as you have always done. You are still able to access education and guidance on governance and management. All the requirements for registration and Annual Returns and complying with the Charities Act remain the same.

The existing forms (for applying for registration, notifying changes, and filing Annual Returns) remain in place, but will, in time, be rebranded with an Internal Affairs identity.  You should send in your completed forms to the current address shown on the forms.

Charities should still call the 0508 CHARITIES (0508 242 748) free information line for assistance.

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What impact will the change have for members of the public?

There should be no changes in service or access to information apparent to the public from the Commission's move to Internal Affairs.

Members of the public can still access the Charities Register and use the simple or Advanced Search to find information about charities. The Commission's "Open Data", which allows web developers and members of the public to search, sort and combine information about charities from the Charities Register, remains in place.

There is still a point of contact to make complaints about charities, and the monitoring and investigations team is continuing to look into charities to be sure they are complying with the Charities Act, and sticking to the charitable purposes set out in their rules.

Information on this website www.charities.govt.nz will still be available and kept updated.

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Does the change mean that the definition of "charitable purpose" will also be amended?

A review of the Charities Act - including the legal definition of "charitable purpose" remains scheduled to be completed in 2015, and will be overseen by the Department of Internal Affairs.

The current common law definition of "charitable purpose" established by the courts remains as the legal "test" for whether an organisation is charitable or not.

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Why was the Commission disestablished?

Although it's acknowledged that the Commission did a great job setting up the Charities Register, and carrying out all of its statutory functions, government wants to reduce spending on administration, while improving services. Merging agencies is one way of achieving this.

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Why was the Commission moved to the Department of Internal Affairs (rather than another agency)?

The Department includes many independent statutory roles and functions. Its purpose is to serve and connect people, communities and government to build a safe, prosperous and respected nation – just as the Commission played a key role in supporting, connecting and informing charities and the public. Supporting charities, and promoting public trust and confidence in charities is very much in line with the Department's purpose.

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What will the Commission be called in the future?

Our registration, education and monitoring functions are now carried out by the "Department of Internal Affairs - Charities". A new three-person Board will make independent decisions about registering or deregistering charities.

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Who are the members of the new independent Board?

A new independent three-person Board has been appointed to make decisions about registering or deregistering charities.  The members of the new Charities Registration Board are Roger Miller (chair), Caren Rangi, and Kirikaiahi Albert.

Mr Miller is a Wellington lawyer and Registered Trustee, whose specialisations include trust law and governance. He chairs the Scots College Foundation and the Porirua City Council Community Services Board and is a trustee of Performing Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

Caren Rangi is a chartered accountant and audit specialist from Napier. Ms Rangi has extensive community governance experience and is currently a board member of the Broadcasting Commission (NZ On Air) and a trustee of the Eastern and Central Community Trust.

Kirikaiahi Albert is a Wellington lawyer with experience in taxation, Treaty settlements and iwi governance. Ms Albert is active in the Māori legal community, Wellington rugby league and international indigenous networks.

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