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People often ask whether Greenpeace is a charity so, for the record, the answer is yes. Greenpeace is a charity in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Is Greenpeace a charity in New Zealand? Yes. Greenpeace is a charity in New Zealand.
Aerial of the Rainbow Warrior entering the Hauraki Gulf, with Rangitoto in the background

Greenpeace is a charity

On the 11th of August, 2020, Greenpeace won an eight-year court battle to be registered as a charity.

The High Court ruled that Greenpeace is entitled to register as a charity and that the Charities Registration Board was in error for declining the environmental campaigning organisation’s application.

In a summary of the judgement the High Court says “Environmental protection is a charitable purpose and Greenpeace NZ’s advocacy advances the public benefit by gathering necessary support.”

Charity status legal fight

Greenpeace fought this case through the courts for over eight years, in the High Court, to the Court of Appeal, to the Supreme Court, back to the Charities Board and then to the High Court again.

Greenpeace Aotearoa’s executive director, Russel Norman said the ruling was “a significant victory for Greenpeace and all of the environmental advocacy groups and campaigners who work ensure Earth’s ability to sustain life in all its diversity.”

“Twelve years after applying to be a charity, the High Court ruling in favour of Greenpeace is also a win for democracy in Aotearoa. Groups like Greenpeace which challenge undue corporate influence and stand up for nature on behalf of future generations and the natural world, play a vital role in a healthy democracy. Protest and public good go hand in hand.

“This case has essentially found that protecting nature is a public good, which I would have thought was self evident as we are part of nature and our very survival depends on a healthy nature world.

“This sorry saga shows that we need to re-establish an independent Charities Commission to handle these applications, and take them away from the heavy hand of the Department of Internal Affairs.

“Government’s generally don’t like campaigning NGOs as they criticise Government activities. That’s why Governments should not be involved in the decision as to whether an NGO gets charitable registration. As we saw in this case, the DIA again and again gave wrong advice, blocking Greenpeace’s application. It is time to set up an independent Charities Commission to make these decisions.”

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