Frequently asked questions
What were the needs that led to the formation of ZCT?
Zoroastrians living in Auckland meet and have functions on a regular basis at community centres or school halls, primarily for the children’s prayer classes and other religious and social functions. Due to restrictions and bookings by other groups, these meetings and functions must be held at various locations. Religious ceremonies must be restricted, and community activities must be limited to comply with the venue regulations.
I.e. There is no community funded and maintained Zoroastrian place of worship. A place large enough, where Zoroastrians can pray and give reverence to Ahura Mazda as a community. A place where young and senior members of the community can go to “catch-up” or “hangout”, a place where they can interact with fellow Zoroastrians in the knowledge it is their place.
Why use a Charitable Trust structure and not an Incorporated society/association?
Best practice recommends a Trust be setup for establishment and on-going management of a community property. Some key reasons are (LGNZ Policy published in 2002):
• Guardianship of a community resource for future generations – oversight of the
management and operation of a community centre is entrusted to the Trustees, to ensure
accountability and the purpose of a community centre is met.
• Giving leadership, developing a vision, setting a direction and monitoring and reviewing it in
line with the purpose, outcome and objectives of the Community Centre Policy and what is
expected in terms of the community centre management agreement.
• Developing and monitoring a business plan to successfully implement the purpose -
knowing what diverse groups comprise the community, what activities or programmes the
community needs, what needs the centre will focus on.
• Trusts are required to maintain a greater standard of governance and operations due to the
legislative framework that they are required to operate under.
• Trusts have a greater degree of financial accountability than associations and societies, for
eg: the financial statements of a Charitable Trust must either be reviewed or audited by a
• Trustees have to meet the legally stated good-standing qualifications certain before they
can hold the office of trustee and trustees have fiduciary responsibilities to act in the best
interest of the Trust at all times. These qualification conditions are not legally required from
officers of an association or a society.
Why is the new Trust not part of the Zarathushtrian Association of New Zealand (ZANZ)?
ZANZ is an association that works towards the benefit of its members and community at large. Its objectives are preserving the cultural identity of Zoroastrians in New Zealand, organising religious classes for children and social functions /activities.
ZANZ is governed by Incorporated Societies Act of 1908. This act allows like-minded people come together and share their beliefs, passions, etc. It is not very legally prescriptive especially with respect to governance and financial management, these are practiced under the rules of the association. New Zealand law provided other avenues like Trust for charitable organisations to have stronger fiduciary control and accountability.
Funds collected by ZANZ can be used for any of the several objectives of ZANZ. The best way to safeguard funds collected for a single purpose that cannot be used for other purposes is by having a separate Trust structure governed under a Trust deed.
It was always the plan of the ZANZ founding members to have a separate more focused body like a Trust that would own and manage a place of worship and community centre. That is why in the objectives of ZANZ it specifically does not mention or reference the establishment a place of worship and community centre.
A separate charitable Trust (ZCT) with a greater degree of financial accountability and the Trust’s sole objective was to raise funds to give Zoroastrian community (in Auckland) a permanent place of worship and a venue where the community can hold religious and social functions for years to come. Also, Trustees of such a trust would be focused only on collecting funds and would not need to be encumbered with other responsibilities which ZANZ’s as an association has in its objectives.
The main advantages are:
• Commitment – The Trust has a single-minded focus on collecting money for the
community centre and place of worship in Auckland, New Zealand.
• Unity – Working together with the wider community to achieve its objectives. Embracing
unity in diversity and appreciate the need to be committed to Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta.
(Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds) for the common good of the Zoroastrian
• Fiduciary – The Trust is governed by and complaint to the Trust laws of New Zealand and
gives donors assurance that funds collected for a community centre will only be used for a
community centre and no other purposes.
The roots of ZCT are closely intertwined with ZANZ. From 2003 to the Trust’s formation in 2007 ZANZ members were kept informed of the progress for establishment of the Trust (update presentation at a ZANZ AGM). In fact, all past and present trustees have been members ZANZ.
When was ZCT formed?
ZCT was registered on 23 March 2007 under Charities Act 2005 and on 9th November 2007, the Charities Commission NZ (now managed by the Department of Internal Affairs) registered the Trust as a charitable entity (Official Registration number is CC20039). Upon this registration a donee status was granted by the Inland Revenue Department. This status enabled donors to claim tax refunds on their donations to ZCT.
When did ZCT start collecting funds or receiving donations?
Donations to ZCT began from January 2008.
Can anyone give a donation to ZCT?
ZCT accepts donations from all lawful sources. i.e. legitimately obtained source of funds from people and organisations that would like to help ZCT achieve its objectives.
What are the criteria required to be part of the trust or have a say in its activities?
Only Pledge donors have a say in the running and action undertaking of the trust.
A Pledge donor needs to meet the following criteria:
▪ must be over 18 and;
▪ must be a Zoroastrian and;
▪ must be contributing to the Trust an annual amount of $500.00 in any financial year or over
a period their contribution has reached $5,000.00.
What are the funding sources of ZCT?
ZCT see the following as primary funding sources (local):
▪ Regular donations (by pledges) – Pledge donors ($500pa)
▪ Payroll giving. (Currently some Pledge Donors are using this facility with the Trust benefiting
from their company donations)
▪ One-off donation sums from Zoroastrians living in New Zealand (any sum) – Friends of ZCT
▪ Annual fund-raising drive
▪ Various major fund-raising activities & Pledge towards fund-raising activities (match dollar
ZCT sees the following as secondary funding sources (international and other):
▪ Donations from Zoroastrians living abroad (philanthropic families and organisations)
▪ Grants from Charitable trusts such as Governmental and Non- Governmental agencies
▪ Donations received from provisions made in Wills or Trusts
Who oversees the Trust?
As per the Trust deed the trust is governed by a minimum of three Trustees and can have up to five Trustees under the Trust Deed.
Who can be a Trustee?
Any Pledge donor who is over 21 years and meets the Trustee qualifications under Charities Act 2005 is qualified to be a Trustee.
How does person become a Trustee of ZCT?
A person is voted by the Pledge donors to the position of Trustee. The position of Trustee becomes available when a Trustee’s tenure is completed or if a Trustee position becomes vacant for any reason.
How long can a Trustee tenure?
Each elected trustee serves on the trust board for five years and is eligible to stand for re-election at the end of their term at the upcoming AGM.
What happens to the funds that are being collected?
All funds that are collected are held in bank accounts (including term deposits) managed by ZCT. Currently, funds have been deposited in bank accounts to maintain liquidity in case an opportunity arose to use the proceeds as deposit on a property for the Trust.
What happens if after a period the Trustees and Pledge donors believe it will never achieve its goal of establishing a community centre and place of worship in Auckland, New Zealand?
We should never reach a state where we as a Zorostrian community having been persecuted, driven from our homeland and survived for millennia believe that our vision of having of community centre and place of worship in Auckland, will be impossible to achieve.
However, if such a day would come, the Trust is governed by strict guidelines as to how resettlement of the Trust will take place. To summarise resettlement of funds would have to go one or more established charitable trusts.
Before any resettlement action takes place the Trust deed may be varied (altered) to include distribution of funds to cause like Zoroastrian community wellbeing, medical relief, poverty relief, education scholarships, etc. Any such decision will have to be made with the approval of the Pledge donors as specified in the Trust Deed.
Where will this Zorostrian the community centre and place of worship in Auckland be located?
The location would be not too far from where many Zoroastrians live in Auckland (i.e. South East Auckland) and relatively close access to the motorway system.
However, the availability of the right property at a price we can afford will be a major determining factor.
Are the plans to build or buy?
The ideal would be to buy suitable land and then build. However, affordable land in locations not too far from where many Zoroastrians live is hard to come by. Also, the location needs to have the right zoning to allow for a community facility.
Suitable options that could be achieved in a NZ$1.1 million to NZ$1.5 million price range are pre-existing commercial buildings that would be renovated to meet the requirements.
What is the timeline for having the community hall and place of worship in place?
When ZCT was started, the timeline was to enough funding in 7 to 10 years, so that we could have a small centre in place. Unfortunately, we did not raise enough funds and the speed of funds raised has been relatively slow.
To add, the real estate prices in Auckland have doubled in the last 10 years. Currently with over $350,000 in available funds could be used as a deposit for a property which will be supplemented by partial bank funding and if we get a big lump some donations from overseas, we could potentially buy a property in 2020 or earlier if funding is secured.
What will a smaller non purpose-built centre offer to the community?
Since this is a community building all members of the Zorostrian community and their family will be able to use the facilities. The rooms could also be rented out to anyone to generate income for ZCT.
The centre will have rooms where we can have small (under 100 people) community gatherings, Zorostrian cultural classes can be held, members of the community can use for free for community catchups (e.g. seniors coffee group, thespian enthusiast, etc.), and for a fee rented out to members for (e.g. birthday party, private prayer services, etc.).
There will be a room which will house a non-concerted fire that will be tended to but not necessarily 24x7.
What will happen once the ZCT centre is available?
ZCT in its business plan has budgeted costs to manage and maintain the centre.
What will happen if ZCT’s goal is not reached?
We believe that day should never come; however, if in the future the Trustees and Pledge Donors decide to stop fundraising and stop looking for location for the community building. Then accumulated funds will be allocated to an external fund manager to manage and grow the accumulated funds, until such time the Pledge Donors feel they are able to reinvigorate the project. Note - that during that time the Trust must comply with its charitable Trust compliance obligations and any other Trust related legislative obligations.
Will it be welcoming for all Zoroastrians including their non-Zoroastrian spouse/partners?
The community facility may have rooms that may be rented out to individuals as a source of income the people who use the rooms may not be Zoroastrians. The facility will have a segregated room that will house a non-concerted fire. The practice associated with a non-concerted fire is that it can be seen by anyone.