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



South Auckland charity The Aunties takes home top Women of Influence Award

The founder of a South Auckland charity group dubbed The Aunties has won the top honour at the Women of Influence Awards.

Jackie Clark set up the not-for-profit organisation six years ago to help vulnerable women and children who've experienced domestic violence.

The group's primary aim is to provide material needs to those they support.

"The Aunties believe everyone has the right to be safe, to have shelter, to be fed, to be loved, to dream, to read, to write, to have their say, and to be heard," the group proclaims on its Givealittle page. "Where any of those things are missing, the Aunties mission is to help provide them - the practical things, and also in terms of advocacy and pastoral care."

The group says it believes in manaakitanga - protecting the mana of the people they help so that they can find their way towards living independently, and with dignity and joy.

"Jackie and her fellow Aunties give without seeking anything in return and without judgement," said Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean, whose company co-sponsors the Women of Influence Awards. "She, and her core of other Aunties, ask vulnerable women what they need and then set about making it happen, in a completely selfless way.

"They have made an enormous contribution to our local communities at grassroots level."

The award ceremony was held last night at SkyCity in Auckland.

Here's the full list of winners:
Supreme Winner: Jackie Clark
Lifetime Achievement: Theresa Gattung
Arts and Culture: Miranda Harcourt
Board and Management: Dr Farah Palmer
Business and Enterprise: Angie Judge
Rural: Rebecca Keoghan
Public Policy: Charlotte Korte
Community/Not for Profit: Jackie Clark
Innovation and Science: Professor Wendy Larner
Diversity: Sarah Lang
Global: Sarah Vrede
Young Leader: Maddison McQueen-Davies

Jackie Clark set up the non-for-profit six years ago, which aims to help vulnerable women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Source: Breakfast


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Around 360 Glenorchy homes still without power 48 hours after early spring snowfall

The Glenorchy township in Central Otago is still without power 48 hours after a spring snowfall caused major disruptions in the deep south.

Around 360 households have been affected.

Aurora Energy is hoping to have power restored to the area by this evening.

Around 360 households in the central Otago town are affected, with Aurora Energy hoping to have electricity back on by this evening. Source: Breakfast

In many places power was cut, schools were closed and flights cancelled. Source: 1 NEWS

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Watch: Artist uses pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy around town

A Kiwi artist are architect is using a pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask people what makes them smile, but instead of rolling up to you on the street he's built a pyramid to help lighten people's moods.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp's Lucas de Jong went along to take a look and share a laugh in the video above.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask Kiwis what makes them smile. Source: Seven Sharp


Meet the transgender Wellington school caretaker brightening up kids' days

A transgender caretaker at a Wellington school has been using her musical talents to brighten up the kids' days.

Molly Mason was born as Michael, but soon discovered she was a female born in a man's body.

"I believe I'm a woman, and I associate as a woman, so I live my life as a woman," Molly told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Molly has a love of music that began when she was just six.

Now, in her role as caretaker at a Wellington school, she uses her talent to good effect by beat boxing with the kids at lunchtime.

"When I realised that beat boxing and making sounds was something I couldn't live without, that was it, nothing else mattered."

However, to be this woman - that little boy Michael, had a fight on his hands.

"I got bullied from primary school right through until the day I left college and left Blenheim."

Molly is now proud to be transgender and says the stage is her safe place. She performs as her drag alter ego called Bette Noir.

"Anything that makes me sad, makes me worried, makes me scared, anything that I find stressful, it's not there, it's gone." 

Seven Sharp’s Arrun Soma spoke with Molly Mason. Source: Seven Sharp