Advancement of education/Te kōkiri mātauranga

Updated 17 March 2023

This page offers guidance on one of the four categories of charitable purpose,
advancement of education. It explains how a charity can advance education in a charitable way, and provides some examples of wording used by charitable organisations.

To be charitable under this category, your organisation's purpose must:

  • provide some form of education
  • ensure learning is passed on to others.

The modern concept of "education" covers formal education, training and research in specific areas of study, and expertise. It also includes less formal education in the development of individual capabilities, competencies, skills and understanding.  

Museums and galleries for the public, promotion of cultural and artistic appreciation of the arts, music and literature can all be considered as education.  

Education and Advocacy

If an organisation conducts research, to fit within the “advancement of education” head of charity, the research needs to be carried out in an objective and impartial way. This also means that the findings of the research are available and accessible to the public.

If an organisation uses research to advocate for its point of view on an issue, the advocacy purpose is considered separately from whether it advances education. Advocacy to persuade people to a particular point of view is not the same as advancing education. To advance education, an organisation must have a genuine educational purpose.

Activities that relate to propaganda, opinions or lack neutrality, or are biased towards a particular outcome, would not qualify as advancement of education.

Advocacy for a particular view can still be charitable even if it does not advance education in a charitable sense. For further information about when advocacy is charitable, see Advocacy/Taunakitanga(external link).

You should also read Charities Services information about charitable purpose and your rules.(external link)

Examples of wording

Here are some examples of wording used by charitable organisations to show how they fit with the "advancement of education" charitable purpose:

To advance education...

  • by establishing and operating schools
  • by providing parenting courses, seminars and workshops
  • by providing childbirth education classes that focus on issues of family-centred care, preparation for parenting and nutrition
  • of young people by providing leadership training programmes and workshops
  • of the public in music performance and composition through workshops and recitals
  • and increase the public's understanding and appreciation of the arts by providing performances of an artistic nature in public places, senior citizens' homes, churches, community centres and educational institutions and by providing seminars on topics relating to such performances
  • by producing performing arts festivals for the purposes of educating and advancing the public's understanding and appreciation of performing arts and to educate artists through participation in such festivals and related workshops
  • by providing master classes in the music field
  • by providing various arts programming such as youth theatre, arts camps and workshops for young people
  • by educating children about safety issues
  • by educating on community development through workshops and seminars
  • by educating and informing the public about wild birds and their habitats
  • by educating the public on agriculture and farming
  • by providing public education programmes on the subject of acquired brain injury
  • by providing scholarships, bursaries and awards to [this would need to be a group that would constitute the public or an appreciably important section of the public]
  • by advancing the education of students attending [name of school] by providing books, equipment and educational aids
  • by establishing and operating a resource library for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • by training police officers, teachers, social workers and crisis response workers on how to recognise and respond to online sexual exploitation and assist children and young people affected by this issue
  • by educating the public on the proper usage and safety of firearms
  • by educating students in economics
  • by operating a national science fair for students in Years [specify]
  • by providing workshops and seminars pertinent to caregivers' needs
  • by establishing and operating a resource library for caregivers
  • by establishing, maintaining and operating an educational training centre that will provide instruction on refurbishing obsolete computers and electronic equipment and train the hard-to-employ in gainful trades, professions and occupations
  • by educating and increasing the public's appreciation of Māori culture
  • by providing a mentorship programme to Māori film and video artists.

Where can I find more information about the advancement of education?

The book Charity Law in New Zealand(external link) includes detailed information about each charitable purpose, including references to relevant case law. Charity Law in New Zealand is available to download on the Charities Services website.

You can also read (external link) explaining why particular applicants have been declined registration. Reading the decisions can help you understand how your purposes must be charitable and provide for the public benefit. The following legal decisions are particularly useful for understanding the advancement of education:

Family First Supreme Court Decision(external link)

Greenpeace of New Zealand High Court Decision(external link)

Draco Foundation (New Zealand) High Court Decision(external link)