The Charities Registration Board has declined to register the Astrolabe Community Trust, established by the owners of the Rena wreck, part of which is still lodged on Astrolabe Reef, near Tauranga.
The application was declined because the Trust’s current primary purpose is to apply for a specific resource consent to leave the remainder of the wreck on the reef with certain conditions attached. The Board considers that this is not a charitable purpose as the Trust has not demonstrated that this purpose provides a self-evident public benefit.
Although the Trust also has some other purposes that are charitable, they are not the Trust’s main or over-riding purposes, so it fails to meet criteria for registration.
The decision, explaining the Board’s reasoning, is available below.
The Trust appealed the Board’s decision to decline registration under the Charities Act 2005 to the High Court.
On 26 February 2016 the Trust was granted a resource consent by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council effectively to allow the Rena wreck to remain on the Otati/Astrolabe Reef.
Following the granting of the resource consent, the Trust provided further information that its activities give effect to purposes supporting the protection of the environment, through monitoring and remedial work. It also advances other charitable purposes through the “restoration and mitigation fund” it manages, including promoting health and safety in the marine environment.
The Board accepted these activities would advance charitable purposes consistent with the stated purposes of the Trust and noted the Trust confirmed it would not fund any further appeals of the resource consent. The Trust and the Board agreed to jointly submit to the High Court that an order be made for the Trust to be registered from the date it received the resource consent, that date being 26 February 2016.
The Court made this Order on 12 September 2016