Charities Services Ngā Rātonga Kaupapa Atawhai
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Better Public Media Trust v Attorney-General

2 March 2020

Note: Better Public Media Trust have appealed the High Court judgment to the Court of Appeal. Further updates will be included as this appeal progresses.

This page introduces you to the High Court judgment on the appeal of Better Public Media Trust. This judgment can be accessed through the link below. On 2 March 2020 the High Court released this decision and dismissed the Trust’s appeal. Justice Cull confirmed the decision of Te Rātā Atawhai, the independent Charities Registration Board, that the Trust is not qualified for registration as a charity.

The Board has made a statement of the decision here(external link).  

The Board’s earlier decision that was upheld is available here(external link).

The High Court held that the Trust’s primary purpose is the advancement of public media. This purpose is to be considered under the test for advocacy purposes. The test comes from the Supreme Court decision of Greenpeace of New Zealand Incorporated(external link).  The Trust’s activities largely involve the assertion of its views and the nexus between the Trust’s advocacy and any public benefit is uncertain.

The width of the Trust’s purpose makes analogy with other cases difficult.  It is not clear that all of the Trust’s activities for its purpose will be of benefit to the public and considered charitable by analogy

The Court also held that not all the means adopted by the Trust to promote its end are charitable. 

Although not determinative, the Court noted that the Trust’s definition of “public media” is overly wide, presenting a difficulty in defining whether the end in itself (promoting public media) is a public benefit in the charitable sense.

The High Court agreed with the Board’s decision that the Trust does not have a charitable educational purpose.   

View the High Court's decision here. [PDF, 3.2 MB]

Court judgments