Spotlight on New Zealand Nonprofits

Spotlight on New Zealand Nonprofits

Aotearoa New Zealand is becoming known for its social enterprise sector. Last month at the Social Enterprise World Forum in Scotland, New Zealand brought the third-largest delegation of any country, after hosting the event in Christchurch last year.

“I had a unique opportunity to examine the field of social enterprise in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2013... The field was fractured and barely visible in New Zealand in contrast to its global traction…

Fast-forward to September 2017 when 1600 social entrepreneurs and stakeholders, including over 1000 New Zealanders, coalesced in Christchurch from around the globe to attend the Social Enterprise World Forum… The diversity of participants was notable. Was this collision of entrepreneurs and activists a signal of an emergent movement?”

- MJ Kaplan, On the Cusp

Connected to this movement is the fact that New Zealand consistently ranks among the most generous places in the world. Kiwis give approximately $3 billion per year to charitable causes— often quietly and anonymously— exemplifying Aotearoa’s spirit of kindness and rich tradition of “koha”.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses the United Nations General Assembly.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses the United Nations General Assembly.

In her recent speech at the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shared how New Zealand’s new Living Standards framework will begin to guide policy-making and resource management. This new trend towards a “well-being economy” offers New Zealand a chance to move beyond an outdated GDP-focused paradigm, into a more holistic approach to intergenerational capital.

As a small country with a history of progressive action and policies, Aotearoa New Zealand is well-positioned to incubate leading solutions that can serve as replicable models for the rest of the world. Perhaps no where is this more fitting than New Zealand’s nonprofit landscape, where exceptional organisations are already demonstrating a new kind of economy.

One year ago Namaste Foundation partnered with The Gift Trust, a leader in the New Zealand generosity movement. Through its donor-advised funds, The Gift Trust makes it simple for foundations and philanthropists to give to NZ-based nonprofits quickly and easily. We’ve had a terrific experience with The Gift Trust and highly recommend them.

Here are some of the inspiring New Zealand nonprofits the Namaste Foundation has chipped in to over the past year. These groups are doing excellent work on the front-lines of positive change, and we encourage you to consider adding your support:

Generation Zero - A youth-led organisation which advocates solutions for NZ to cut carbon pollution through smarter transport, liveable cities, and independence from fossil fuels. Generation Zero has been a prominent voice in the development of New Zealand’s new Zero Carbon Bill.

Human Rights Measurement Initiative - HRMI is the first global initiative to track the human rights performance of countries, providing a comprehensive and independent source of data for knowledge-sharing and progress.

Red Tide Summit - The Red Tide Summit is an international indigenous climate action summit, hosted by Te Whānau-ā-Aapanui and Pacific Peoples Partnership. This year’s first Red Tide Summit featured stimulating discussions and knowledge-sharing across indigenous environmental science, activism, arts, youth training, and traditional cultural practices.

Koanga Institute - Home of New Zealand’s largest heritage food plant collection, the Koanga Institute inspires and supports others on their journeys in regenerative living, offering organic heritage seeds, permaculture workshops, and educational publications.

Ekos - Ekos is an international leader in environmental financing innovation. Its supply side activities feature projects that grow and protect indigenous forests, with sustainable development outcomes in rural Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

ActionStation - ActionStation is a grassroots, independent community organisation that campaigns for human rights, economic fairness, a flourishing planet, and a transparent and accountable democracy. ActionStation recently published a research report “They’re Our Whānau” with Māori perspectives of New Zealand’s justice system and needed reforms.

Global Alliance for Rights of Nature - GARN recently hosted the International Rights of Nature Symposium, in recognition of the 10th anniversary of constitutional inclusion of rights of nature in Ecuador. Delegates from Aotearoa attended the gathering to share their experiences, notably with the Te Urewera Act 2014 — a world-leading legislation which declared the Tūhoe homeland a legal entity in its own right.

AmbitionNZ - AmbitionNZ is a project that explores what ambition means in New Zealand. Research findings from its surveys and interviews will be shared in an upcoming book.

Living the Change - Living The Change is a feature-length documentary from the team at Happen Films, showcasing regenerative stories from around New Zealand— including forest gardens, composting toilets, community supported agricture, timebanking, and other examples of “living the change”. Happen Films produces excellent short-form videos on their YouTube channel too.

Better Work Together - A new book from the Enspiral network, Better Work Together is about how the power of community and purposeful work can transform business. Enspiral has been a long-time pioneer in the New Zealand social enteprise sector, helping incubate several ventures like Enspiral Dev Academy, Loomio, and Cobudget.

Hutt Science - Hutt Science is a local initiative by the Hutt City Council, in partnership with House of Science, to help engage young people and catalyse enthusiasm about science and technology. Hutt Science offers hands-on science resource kits for primary and intermediate schools, assisting teachers and promoting scientific literacy.

Here are additional NZ nonprofits we’ve supported in the past, who are also doing terrific work:

One Percent Collective - One Percent Collective offers a simple and effective way for people to give 1% of their income to Kiwi-based charities. One Percent Collective manages all of the administration and vetting, therefore passing 100% of donations through to the recipient nonprofit groups.

Inspiring Stories - Inspiring Stories supports young New Zealanders to unleash their potential in changing the world. The organisation is host of the Festival for the Future, the Future Leaders progamme, and Inspiring Speakers - a speaker bureau representing NZ’s top young talent.

SCOUTS New Zealand - SCOUTS New Zealand empowers youth through adventurous experiences, to be outdoors, interact with others, gain confidence, and have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Yoga Education in Prisons Trust - The Yoga Education in Prisons Trust provides yoga and meditation education in prisons, helping prisoners embark on a journey of personal growth and wellbeing that may not have otherwise been realised.

The Namaste Foundation team is also deeply involved in the Edmund Hillary Fellowship, a unique nonprofit programme that launched in 2017 in partnership with Immigration New Zealand to bring together a community world-class impact entrepreneurs, investors, and change-makers. International fellowship recipients get exclusive access to New Zealand’s Global Impact Visa - the first-ever visa to focus on impact, along with a pathway to permanent residency for Fellows and their families.

EHF is part of the Hillary Institute, originally launched by Sir Edmund Hillary and former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark, designed to celebrate exceptional leadership on the global stage. Already over 100 passionate change-makers from 25+ countries have become EHF Fellows, and the momentum is rapidly growing.

If you’re interested in being part of the impact and social enterprise movement in Aotearoa New Zealand, you can learn more about the Edmund Hillary Fellowship at You might also consider attending one of EHF’s semi-annual New Frontiers summits, where the community comes together for three days of meaningful dialogues and emergent co-creation. The next New Frontiers is Nov 4-6, 2018. More information is available at

There’s so much happening in the Aotearoa New Zealand social enterprise and nonprofit sector, this barely scratches the surface. If you live overseas, come out for a visit sometime! Just be sure to brush up on your Kiwi slang.

Annual Report 2018

Annual Report 2018

Living The Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future

Living The Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future