Family First New Zealand

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Family First New Zealand is a conservative Christian lobby group in New Zealand It was founded in March 2006 with former Radio Rhema talkback host and South Auckland social-worker Bob McCoskrie as the national director. Its stated objectives are to "seek to influence public policy affecting the rights and protection of families and promote a culture that values the family."[1]

It supported a petition for a citizens-initiated referendum to overturn the 2007 amendment act which replaced Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961,[2] which had allowed for a defence of reasonable force in child abuse cases based on corporal punishment. The petition gained 324,316 signatures although only 285,027 were required for a referendum. When checked for invalid signatures there was a shortfall of 15,000 signatures.[3] Sufficient signatures were then obtained to hold the New Zealand citizens-initiated referendum, 2009, asking voters "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?". In May 2009, Family First criticised the Government for spending $8 million on the referendum which they felt should have been held at the same time as the November 2008 general election.[4] Although the referendum returned with 87.4% of those who voted voting "No", no change was made to the Crimes Act, and the referendum question was criticised by opponents for being a loaded question.

Family First produces "Value Your Vote", a brochure and accompanying website which are a voting guide primarily concerned with each party's or candidate's record and opinions on issues which it sees as of detriment to the family, such as civil unions, prostitution and abortion.[5] This guide has been published for the 2008 general election,[6] the 2010 Auckland mayoral election,[7] and the 2011 general election.[6]

In July 2012, Family First established "Protect Marriage", a website set up to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in New Zealand after Louisa Wall's private member's bill was drawn from the ballot. The website was collecting signatures for a petition against gay marriage with joke entries, such as Tobias Funke, Eminem and 50 Cent.[8] However, more than 70,000 signatures were presented to Parliament opposing the redefinition of marriage.[9] A poll just before the bill was passed showed that the country was split over the issue. [10]

The website also reproduced the single "Marry Me" from the band Train without authorisation, and, after being alerted by Twitter users of its usage,[11] the band demanded its withdrawal.[12] In a statement the band made explicit their support for gay marriage, and Family First later removed the track.[13]

In May 2013, Family First lost its status as a charity (but it has not formally lost their charitable status as the decision is on appeal in the High Court)[citation needed] after the Charities Registration Board of the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs ruled the group did not "further religion or education, nor promote a benefit to all New Zealanders"; however, this is under appeal.[14] In its media statement and within the online copy of its decision, the Charities Registration Board argued that Family First's objectives were primarily political and not the provision of social, educational or other charitable services as defined under the Charities Act 2004[15][16]

Director Bob McCoskrie challenged the ruling, saying it was a ploy to "shut them up". It has also mentioned other charities that have challenged its stance on the abolition of parental corporal punishment, LGBT rights in New Zealand and other civil liberties and human rights issues, questioning their charitable entitlements [17] He expressed concern about the organisation's future if the deregistration decision remained in place, stating: "No longer will we be exempt from income tax and donations to Family First will no longer qualify for the donation rebate. This is despite it being a non-profit organisation funded purely by donation and gifts and relying heavily on volunteer time" [18] McCoskrie's concern was questioned by some critics of his organisation, given that Family First New Zealand listed the multinational religious right organisation World Congress of Families as one of the supporters for its "Forum on the Family 2012".[19]



Currently, the organisation lists several of its major objectives on an associated website[which?]. These include:


It lists secondary matters of concern as:


  1. ^ "Introducing the Family First Lobby" (PDF). Family First New Zealand. 2006-03-31. Retrieved 2008-02-05. [dead link]
  2. ^ Laugesen, Ruth (2008-01-27). "Petition organisers close to target". Sunday Star Times. 
  3. ^ Johnstone, Martin (2008-04-30). "Petition for anti-smacking law referendum 15,000 short". New Zealand Herald. 
  4. ^ "Govt Can Save $8m By Fixing Smacking Law Now". Voxy. 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  5. ^ "Value Your Vote". 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Press release: 'Value Your Vote' Website Launched for Families". 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Press release: Super City Mayoral Candidates Questioned on Issues". 26 May 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Anti-gay marriage petition attracts jokers". 3 News NZ. July 30, 2012. 
  9. ^ 72,000 sign against gay marriage
  10. ^ Shock poll over gay marriage bill
  11. ^
  12. ^ Band demanding removal of song from site. Gaynz.Com 30.07.2012:
  13. ^ "US band hit out at NZ anti-gay website". 3 News NZ. August 12, 2012. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Family First no longer a charity". 3 News NZ. May 6, 2013. 
  16. ^ Charities Registration Board: Decision D2013-1: Family First New Zealand: (CC42358):
  17. ^ "Family First fights for charity status". 3 News NZ. May 27, 2013. 
  18. ^ "NZ organisation deregistered as charity for views on marriage" Christian Today (Australia):
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^

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