Exclusive: Charities watchdog may sharpen teeth as Destiny Church lags with annual financial returns

Charities Services is looking at their approach towards "serial late filing" from charitable entities such as Destiny Church, which remains badly behind with the annual returns of three of its largest charities.

According to Department of Internal Affairs documents, a total of 15 Destiny Church-associated charities have been sent 49 notices over the last two years - which include reminders to file annual returns and also overdue notices.

The notices, released under the Official Information Act, include a formal warning saying the DIA intended to remove one Destiny Church entity from the Charities Register in December 2016, but Charities Services records show a return was filed for that entity one day before it would have been deregistered.

Department of Internal Affairs Spokesperson Steve Corbett said "we have made our expectations and their responsibilities very clear to Destiny.

Filing current and accurate financial information is a key part of registered charities providing the public with trust and confidence in the sector - Internal Affairs spokesperson Steve Corbett

"Filing current and accurate financial information is a key part of registered charities providing the public with trust and confidence in the sector," Mr Corbett said.

"We consider it a significant and persistent breach of the Act when organisations fail to file two or more annual returns at all, at which point deregistration is the usual result."

There are currently 14 Destiny Church-related entities registered as charities and of those, all are up to date with their annual returns - except for Destiny Church Auckland Trust, Destiny International Trust and Te Hahi o Nga Matamua Holdings Limited, which are overdue by more than nine months.

The three entities are among Destiny's highest earners and each last filed an annual return on September 30, 2015 for the year ended March 31 2015.

All three were granted extensions by the DIA, giving them until November 30, 2016 to file their annual returns - but those extensions are now past due by more than seven months and the annual returns are still outstanding.

However, the DIA says these three entities still do not currently meet the threshold for deregistration.

"We understand the delay is largely due to the Destiny Group having difficulty engaging an auditor but we have made our expectations and their responsibilities very clear," Mr Corbett said.

Destiny's serial late filing is a real concern to us - Internal Affairs spokesperson Steve Corbett

"Our standard process is to work alongside charities to understand any delays and help them file on time but Destiny's serial late filing is a real concern to us.

"We are now considering whether there is a need to change or strengthen our approach to more effectively apply the legislation to situations where there is persistent late filing."

In the past, three Destiny-related charities have been removed from the charities register for failing to file an annual return as required under the Charities Act.

A spokesperson for Destiny Church told 1 NEWS that "in an effort to comply with the new Charities Commission Reporting Standards, and remain completely transparent, the Destiny Churches Group is working with new auditors who are specialised in preparing the financials of charities like ours".

We are confident that we will be able to meet the Charities timeframes going forward from here - Destiny Church spokesperson

"We are keeping the Charities Commission [Charities Services] constantly up-to-date with our progress, and we are confident that we will be able to meet the Charities timeframes going forward from here."

Minister of the Community and Voluntary Sector Alfred Ngaro said that while he is not directly involved with the registration of charities, "the approach to charities who are filing late returns" is currently being looked at by Charities Services, who are "considering what more can be done to ensure charities better meet their reporting obligations".

"While the Government is responsible for setting the legislation governing the charities and voluntary sector, enforcement and decisions on whether or not charities are complying and should retain their charitable status are a matter for the independent Charities Registration Board," Mr Ngaro said in a statement.

"The Board's independence is important because we need to ensure that all charities are treated equally under the law ... it would be inappropriate for ministers to intervene in these decisions.

1 NEWS NOW reporter Luke Appleby said in July 2017 that the church tells him they’re working to file as soon as possible. Source: Breakfast



Up to 200 Fonterra staff fly to California resort for meeting as co-op announces $196 million loss

Fonterra has responded to revelations members of its Europe-based staff travelled at least 9000 kilometres to attend a meeting at a California resort town by saying the location was chosen because of its proximity to Los Angeles Airport.

NBR has reported up to 200 staff from the co-op's New Zealand milk product division attended the sales and marketing meeting at the tourist and surf mecca Huntington Beach at the time Fonterra was announcing a historic annual loss of $196 million last week.

The NZ Herald reports Fonterra responded to questions about the meeting with a statement.

Los Angeles Airport sign.
Los Angeles Airport sign. Source: Getty

"NZMP is an international business, with the majority of staff and customers based offshore, including a significant number in Europe, the US and South America," it read. 

"Every two years, select members of this team come together for a sales and marketing meeting to review performance and develop strategic plans for the following 12 months.

"The location of the global meeting varies but is always organised near a major airport hub. The venue for this year's meeting was selected due to its proximity to LAX. Bookings for the event were made several months ago to ensure cost efficiencies."

NZMP is the dairy ingredients brand of Fonterra.

The Herald noted Huntington Beach is at least an hour's drive from LAX.

Its report said while it's not unusual for large international businesses like Fonterra to hold conferences overseas, the farmer-owned cooperative is in the public spotlight for its financial performance, number of managers and staff salaries. 

Fonterra's annual report last week had showed nearly 6000 staff were paid at least $100,000.

The dairy giant today revealed a near-$200 million annual loss, the first in its 17-year history. Source: 1 NEWS


Rentable e-scooters could 'revolutionise' way Aucklanders get around with 2500 set to hit city's streets

A fleet of e-scooters is about to hit Auckland streets which the public can rent to get around town.

A media release today says an initial order of 500 Onzo e-scooters are en route to Auckland and set to hit the streets next month.

The company says a further 2000 will join them in coming months.

With a 250W motor, the e-scooters are capable of top speeds of around 30 kilometres per hour and can cover around 30 kilometres before requiring a recharge.

"E-scooters are great because they make travelling easy and fun," Onzo Chief Growth Officer, Min-Kyu Jung, says.

"Unlike bikes, e-scooters are allowed to be used on footpaths and don’t require helmets. They're perfect to pick up anywhere, anytime, for last-mile journeys such as between the bus stop and the office.

"I think this is totally going to revolutionise the way Aucklanders travel around this city. We're designing the system to make it super quick, easy, and cheap to pick up e-scooters for short journeys multiple times a day."

The scooters are said to feature regenerative braking to recharge the battery when the brakes are applied, or when a rider is going downhill.

They also have front and rear lights for added safety.

Just like Onzo's bikes, the system will be dockless and users will simply use the Onzo app to unlock the scooters from wherever they're left around the city by the previous rider.

Onzo will crowdsource the recharging of the scooters at night to the public.

Onzo e-scooter. Source: Supplied

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Winston Peters explains party's support for raising refugee quota

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says NZ First shared the Labour Party's "aspiration" to increase the refugee quota, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced it will be raised to 1500 today.

The NZ First Party leader's position was in stark contrast to comments made at the start of the month at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru.

"We never made a commitment to double the refugee quota," Mr Peters told media at the time.

The Deputy PM went on to argue there were other priorities for the Government.

"We've got 50,000 people who are homeless back home, and I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland, with people living in degradation.

"We have to fix their lives up as well before we start taking on new obligations of the level that some people would like."

However, while standing next to Ms Ardern during the announcement today he took a much softer line on the refugee issue.

"This is about people not about politics and controversy, the fact is it was put to me in Nauru that the 1500 figure was already there, which it wasn't.

"The Labour Party policy I knew was an aspiration towards that, so was New Zealand First's an aspiration towards that, and I knew the Greens had a higher target," Mr Peters said.

"All I did was put out the plain facts and to say that it was a work in progress and I'm not surprised with the speed at which the progress has taken place.

"This was always on the cards that we'd get it done when we had all the background work done on refugee centres and a host of other things," he continued.

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand's refugee quota was previously 1000, after being increased by the National-led Government from 750 in 2016.

The new quota will take effect from July 2020. 

Major points

- There will be six new settlement locations, on top of re-establishing Christchurch as a settlement location.

- Expanding the public housing supply for 150 extra refugee families is expected to cost $32.5 million over three years.

- Budget 2018 included money to build new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre  

The NZ First leader said the increase was “always on the cards”. Source: 1 NEWS


New Zealand's refugee quota jumps to 1500 per year from July 2020, Government announces

New Zealand’s refugee quota will be raised to 1500, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. 

It was previously 1000, after being increased by the National-led Government from 750 in 2016.

"It is the right thing to do," said Ms Ardern. 

"It puts New Zealand much more in line with the humanitarian policies of other developed countries."

Deputy PM Winston Peters said the increase was "about people, not about politics and controversy". 

The NZ First leader said the increase was “always on the cards”. Source: 1 NEWS

The new quota will take effect from July 2020. 

Major points

- There will be six new settlement locations, on top of re-establishing Christchurch as a settlement location.

- Expanding the public housing supply for 150 extra refugee families is expected to cost $32.5 million over three years. 

- Budget 2018 included money to build new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre 

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Background

Yesterday, Ms Ardern told media she wanted to see the current quota increased but a sticking point has been the vastly different policy positions of Labour's Government partners. 

Labour pledged to raise the quota to 1500 and the Green Party aimed for a quota of 5000.

Earlier this month NZ First's Winston Peters told media in Nauru that the focus needed to be on New Zealanders struggling at home.

"We have 50,000 people who are homeless back home and I can show you parts of Northland where people are living in degradation," Mr Peters said, while being questioned at the Pacific Islands' Forum.

National's Simon Bridges said yesterday if the refugee quota was lower than 1500 it would be a demonstration of "Winston Peters undermining the Prime Minister".

"If you look at the Prime Minister's rhetoric she's made great play about being a globalist, a progressive with soaring rhetoric on these issues.

"It's all very well to do the photo ops, the international pieces, but when you've got important questions like this back home that... [are] now are up in the air because of a lack of unanimity and cohesion."

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS