Family First Wins Appeal Against Deregistration

Media Release 1 July 2015
Family First NZ is welcoming a decision in the Wellington High Court to allow its appeal against deregistration by the Charities Board. Justice Collins has directed the Charities Board to reconsider its decision to deregister Family Firsts in light of the judgement in the Greenpeace case[1] and also this judgement.

“This decision is a victory for the many charitable groups – both registered, deregistered and wanting to be registered – who advocate for their causes, beliefs, and supporters and often have to engage in political activity, not always through choice but through necessity. It is a victory for open robust debate on issues that affect families,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

In delivering his decision, Justice Collins has recognised the strength of Family First’s argument that its advocacy for the concept “…of the traditional family is analogous to organisations that have advocated for the ‘mental and moral improvement’ of society.”[2]

“…Members of the Charities Board may personally disagree with the views of Family First, but at the same time recognise there is a legitimate analogy between its role and those organisations that have been recognised as charities.”[3]

Justice Collins also said that “..the Charities Board’s analysis that Family First’s advocacy role is “controversial” and therefore not self-evidently of benefit to the public will need to be reconsidered..”[4]

“It is disappointing that it took a Judge to remind the Charities Board to recognise the precedent set in the Greenpeace case. When the Greenpeace case was decided, we asked the Charities Board to reconsider their decision to deregister us, but they refused to. This has cost both Family First and the taxpayer thousands of dollars in legal fees,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“When a group who promotes the natural family as a fundamental social unit is deemed of ‘no public benefit’, you know a country is in deep trouble. The original decision to deregister Family First during the recent marriage debate was a highly politicised one.”

Family First is a non-profit organisation which receives no government funding, is funded purely by donations and gifts from New Zealand families, and relies heavily on volunteer time and advice. It has led a number of highly public campaigns against controversial legislation including the anti-smacking law and the same-sex marriage law. They have received significant public support as a result of their campaigns.


[1] Re Greenpeace of New Zealand Inc [2014] NZSC 105, [2015] 1 NZLR 169.
[2] Para 87
[3] Para 89
[4] Para 85

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