The Charities Amendment Bill was passed on 5 July 2023. See this post.

Prior to the passing of the Bill, NFP Resource posted some comment:

NFP Resource has received two media releases from Sue Barker. In the interests of debate and for the information of our readers we are pleased to publishthem in full, though without comment.

An alternative view.

8 May 2023


The Social Services and Community Select Committee has reported back on the Charities Amendment Bill 169-2, recommending by majority that it be passed with amendments. The New Zealand National Party has expressed a differing view, pointing out that submissions on the Bill overwhelmingly call for the Bill to be withdrawn, and for the Labour Government to honour its manifesto commitment to carry out a proper, first principles, post-implementation review of the Charities Act 2005, one carried out independently of the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).

“The Government has no mandate to pass this Bill”, said Sue Barker, specialist charities lawyer and member of the Core Reference Group for the review of the Charities Act.

“The Bill represents a broken manifesto promise and does nothing to meet its stated objective to ‘support charities to continue their vital contribution to community wellbeing’. It is surprising that a succession of Ministers and the majority of the Select Committee appear to have simply accepted DIA’s advice without critical examination. It is a sad indictment on our democracy that policy is effectively being set by an unelected and largely unaccountable bureaucracy, while the fundamental concerns of the vast bulk of the charitable sector are consistently ignored. 

“The proposals in the Bill are written by DIA for DIA. Even the proposal to reduce the financial reporting requirements for small charities, which is being used as a Trojan horse to usher in a host of unhelpful measures, is about DIA rather than charities – when DIA comes to write the regulations (if they ever do), they will discover (as a number of submitters have pointed out) that they will not be able to reduce the compliance burden for small charities further than they are about to be reduced by the External Reporting Board without removing all meaningful accountability.

“Charities were not asking for more unnecessary red tape. The Labour Government does not have a democratic mandate to progress this Bill. If the Labour Government wishes to be seen as having integrity, it must withdraw this Bill, as the vast bulk of the charitable sector is calling for”.

29 June 2023


The Charities Amendment Bill 169-3 received its third reading in Parliament on Thursday 29 June 2023.

Despite every MP in Parliament (outside of Labour) opposing the Bill, and despite the vast majority of submitters calling for the Bill to be withdrawn, the Government has pressed ahead with the Bill, putting Parliament into extended sitting hours in order to push the Bill through before Parliament goes into recess for 2 weeks.

“This is a sad day for New Zealand’s charities,” said Sue Barker, specialist charities lawyer and member of the Core Reference Group for the review of the Charities Act. “The Bill is an example of what happens when you put the fox in charge of designing the henhouse: the Bill will grant new powers for the Department of Internal Affairs to reach into charities and undertake over-reaching exercises of regulatory power in the name of enhancing public trust and confidence. The Bill does nothing to improve transparency and fairness of Charities Services’ decision-making, and will instead undermine charities’ independence, and impose new levels of unnecessary restriction and compliance obligation on charities that will force them to have to try to comply with two conflicting and inconsistent bodies of law”, said Sue.

Charities will not feel the pain immediately: most of the problematic provisions of the Bill come into force 3 months after Royal assent, with the removal of charities’ appeal rights occurring 12 months after Royal assent.

The Charity Law Association of Australia and New Zealand, with the kind support of Grant Thornton, is holding a roundtable meeting on Tuesday 4 July from 5-6pm to discuss the reforms proposed (or missed) by the Charities Amendment Bill. For more information or to register, please click here:


For further information, please contact Sue Barker at 04 478 0953 or

About Sue Barker:

Sue Barker is the director of Sue Barker Charities Law, a boutique law firm, based in Wellington, specialising in charities law and public tax law. Since its founding in 2012, the firm has won a number of awards, including Boutique Law Firm of the Year at the New Zealand Law Awards. In 2019, Sue was awarded the New Zealand Law Foundation International Research Fellowship Te Karahipi Rangahau ā Taiao, New Zealand’s premier legal research award, to undertake research into the question “What does a world-leading framework of charities law look like?”. The final report from the Fellowship, entitled Focus on purpose, was released in April 2022 making 70 recommendations for charities law reform in Aotearoa New Zealand. The report can be accessed here: For more information, please visit: or

For further information, please contact Sue Barker at 021 790 053 or