Section 5(2A) of the Charities Act 2005 states that “the promotion of amateur sport may be a charitable purpose if it is the means by which a charitable purpose referred to in subsection (1) is pursued”. So, what sports actually meet these criteria for a charitable purpose?

The purpose of section 5(2A) is to ensure that the promotion of a sport can be a charitable purpose. While promoting a sport is not in itself a charitable purpose, the purpose of a charity could include the promotion of a particular sport for the purposes of promoting health or for the advancement of education, as is established in the section.

Recently, after six years of Swimming NZ being a registered charity, the Charities Registration Board decided to de-register it. The reasoning behind this was that it no longer had charitable purposes due to the competitive and elite nature of the high performance programme. This in itself does not promote a sport but instead promotes sporting success which does not benefit the public. They decided that while there was some promotion to health, the focus on promoting success in the sport outweighed this.

The impact of this decision by the Charities Registration Board is that sporting organisations set up as charities will need to prove that they are existing to promote health as opposed to promoting success in the sport, and ultimately be benefiting the public.

An article which discusses this in more detail was posted by the New Zealand Law Society and can be found here.

So, to answer the question above, any sport can meet the criteria for a charitable purpose as long as it relates to the promotion of health, the advancement of education or anything else that proves to be beneficial to the community, and it will need to be able to prove that it does continue to promote these.

The Charities Services website provides a helpful overview on this topic which can be found here and here.

We offer legal advice on all aspects of charitable trusts and are happy to answer any questions that you might have. Contact Steven Moe at or 03-348-8480 for more information.

What are your options when a charity “runs out of steam” but you don’t want to give up on it altogether?  What if you want some time to have a break from the charity and its compliance obligations, but intend to come back to it in a few years?  We were recently asked the question of whether it is possible for a charity to “pause” for a period of time, and here is what we said:


Can you “pause” a charity?

Generally, a charity is deregistered (removed from the Charities Register) where it ceases all activity. This means that in order for a trust to remain “alive”, it must continue to be active. Pausing a charity essentially means that all activity for the charity will cease for a period of time and it is therefore no longer active. If a charity has been de-registered and wishes to get back on the Charities Register, it will need to go through the application process again.

There is, however, an exception to this – it is possible for a charity to continue to file annual returns for the years that it is “paused” which essentially holds the charity accountable to the fact that it has paused. So long as the charity is not making any returns, it would not need to pay anything on filing those annual returns.


In conclusion, it is possible that you could pause a charity and come back to it in a couple of years, provided that you continue to file an annual return each year for the years where the charity is paused.  This option could be advisable where you do not want your charity to be deregistered and to have to go through the application process again at a later date.


Every situation is unique so please discuss your situation with a professional advisor who can provide tailored solutions to you. We offer advice on all aspects of charitable trusts and are happy to answer any questions that you might have.  Contact Steven Moe at or 03-348-8480 for more information.

Keynote by Hon Peeni Henare.


Hon Peeni Henare – Keynote – Q & A session.