Registered Charities

Iwi and Māori

Registration under the Charities Act has some significant implications for Māori. This information sheet outlines the reasons why you need to be aware of this new legislation and the changes it brings.

Many Māori are active social service providers. If you are involved in an organisation that has an entirely charitable purpose, your organisation could benefit from registration under the Charities Act.

A change to the tax law that came into force on 1 July 2008 says that a charity must be a "tax charity" to be eligible for tax exemptions on charitable grounds. The key way to be a "tax charity" is to be registered with us (under the Charities Act).

The Charities Act has some provisions that have particular relevance for Māori. Under the Charities Act:

How are Māori Trusts considered by the Charities Commission?

Trusts under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993

We may be able to register trusts established under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 (Māori Land Act 1993) under the Charities Act, if they can clearly show they have a charitable purpose. An order of the Māori Land Court under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act won’t be automatically accepted as proof of charitable purpose under the Charities Act. We will review the terms of the order and the trust deed in relation to the definition of "charitable purpose" in the Charities Act. We assess every organisation’s application on a case-by-case basis to decide whether it has a charitable purpose.

Māori Trust Boards Act 1955

Māori Trust Boards that have had declarations of trust approved as charitable by the Commissioner of Inland Revenue under section 24B of the Māori Trust Boards Act already have a charitable purpose. It would help us if you could supply a copy of the letter from Inland Revenue regarding the approval of the declaration of trust.

Other Māori organisations

The Commission recognises that Māori are adopting new structures to manage their fisheries resources and Treaty settlements. The range of purposes of these organisations may be wider than just being purely charitable. However, within these organisations there may still be functioning charities (often as trusts), that could be separately registered under the Charities Act.

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Can a marae have charitable purpose?

Section 5 (2)(b) of the Charities Act says that a marae has a charitable purpose if the marae is on land that is a Māori reservation and the funds of the marae are used only for:

  1. administration and maintenance of the land and the structure of the marae or
  2. a charitable purpose or
  3. a combination of points (1) and (2).

If you are a marae on land that is a Māori reservation, there will be a Gazette notice relating to the reservation of the land. It would help us if you could send a copy of the Gazette notice relating to the reservation of the land or the legal description of the land with your application for registration.

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