Greenpeace Wins High Court Charity Case Appeal

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The High Court has ruled today 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 posted
online today the High Court says “Environmental protection
is a charitable purpose and Greenpeace NZ’s advocacy
advances the public benefit by gathering necessary
support.”

Greenpeace is celebrating the win as a
victory for the movement.

“Today’s ruling is 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, ” said Russel Norman, Greenpeace NZ’s executive
director.

“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.”

Greenpeace has 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.

“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, said
Norman”

“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.

The summary of the
ruling says; “Greenpeace NZ’s main activity is to advocate
for the protection of the environment. It does that mainly
by advocating for measures to mitigate climate change, for
sustainable fishing for the protection of the ocean
environment and for improving the quality of New Zealand’s
freshwater. There is a charitable public benefit in that
advocacy, as it contributes to the broad-based support and
effort necessary for the end goal of protecting the
environment.”

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