The Charities Amendment Act 2023 was passed on 5 July.  With some provisions coming into force on 5 October 2023 and further provisions coming into force on 5 July 2024, NZ charities will need to quickly familiarise themselves with their new obligations.


In relation to a New Zealand charity, the Amendment Act defines officers as those able to exercise significant influence over substantial decisions of the charity.  This includes not only the trustees of charitable trusts, members of incorporated societies’ governing boards/committees, directors of charitable companies, etc. but also roles such as treasurers, CEO/CFOs, etc. of all NZ charitable entities.

The Amendment Act will both impose new obligations on and require new qualifications of officers.  The key new obligations are for all officers to assist the charity in delivering its charitable purpose and complying with its legal obligations.

A new qualification requirement prevents an individual becoming an officer if they have been convicted of an offence relating to the financing of terrorism under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere.  Should a disqualifying ground such as that apply to a (proposed) officer, the Charities Registration Board’s approval to waive that ground could be sought.

The Charities Registration Board also has the power to disqualify individuals/entities from serving as officers for a period of up to 5 years if, in acting as an officer, that individual/entity has engaged in serious wrongdoing in connection with their charity or failed significantly/persistently to meet their obligations under the Act.


A new duty has been imposed on charities by the Amendment Act, requiring them to review their governance procedures at least every 3 years.  Charities must consider whether their governance procedures:

  1. Are fit for purpose;
  2. Assist them to achieve their charitable purpose;
  3. Assist them in complying with the requirements of the Amendment Act.


The Department of Internal Affairs will now be able to exempt certain charities from providing more than a basic annual return regarding their financial information each year.  To be eligible for exemption, the charities must have total assets and total operating expenditure which both remain at all times below maximum financial thresholds prescribed by regulations.

As at the date of this article, those regulations have not been published.  However, DIA guidance indicates the maximum financial thresholds would be annual payments under $10,000 and total assets under $30,000.  That would make approximately 12% of New Zealand’s registered charities eligible for exemption.

Independent of the Amendment Act, DIA are also planning to increase reporting obligations for larger charities so that charities with annual operating expenses exceeding $140,000 will need to explain why they are holding their accumulated funds.


From 5 July 2024, decisions of Charities Services or the Charities Registration Board will be able to be appealed to the Taxation Review Authority instead of the High Court, and will have 2 months from the date of the decision to appeal, up from the current 20 working days.  This is expected to reduce the time and cost of appeals.  The Courts will handle appeals of decisions by the Taxation Review Authority.

If you operate a charity, it pays to be aware of your obligations, and obtain legal advice if you are concerned your practices or governing documents may not comply with those obligations.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced