Head Hunters charity removed from Charities Register

A charitable trust with Head Hunters at the helm has been removed from the Charities Register.
CHRIS SKELTON/FAIRFAX NZ

A charitable trust with Head Hunters at the helm has been removed from the Charities Register.

A Head Hunters organisation claiming to be a charity that helps rehabilitate released prisoners has been removed from the Charities Register. 

The Charities Registration Board, a branch of the Department of Internal Affairs, decided to remove the That Was Then This Is Now Charitable Trust from the Charities Register after discovering the trust was not doing what it claimed.

The trust was set up in 2001, with Head Hunters members at the helm, including president of the gang's East Chapter, Wayne Doyle.

The Charities Registration Board said the trust was not helping reintegrate released prisoners using tools like physical ...
HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

The Charities Registration Board said the trust was not helping reintegrate released prisoners using tools like physical activity, as it claimed.

In 2008 it was granted charitable status after claiming its purpose was to reintegrate and rehabilitate released prisoners by providing education and social services to those at-risk or in need. 

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In a decision released in December, the Charities Registration Board said the trust was not reintegrating prisoners or advancing any other charitable purposes.

The known Head Hunters hangout Fight Club 88 on Marua Rd in Ellerslie is also the trust's registered premises.
CHRIS SKELTON/FAIRFAX MEDIA

The known Head Hunters hangout Fight Club 88 on Marua Rd in Ellerslie is also the trust's registered premises.

"Instead, the Trust's purpose is to provide benefits to the Head Hunters Motorcycle Club (Head Hunters), its members, associates and their families.

"This is not a charitable purpose."

To be registered as a charity, a trust must have exclusively charitable purposes, and be available to a "sufficient section" of the public, the decision said.

The trust also applied to run a raffle, with the prize exceeding $50,000 in 2011. It's application for a licence was ...

The trust also applied to run a raffle, with the prize exceeding $50,000 in 2011. It's application for a licence was denied but later granted upon appeal in 2013.

The trust plans to appeal the decision to remove it from the register at the High Court.

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The Head Hunters is an outlaw motorcycle gang set up in Auckland in the 1960s, and is often associated with the production and sale of methamphetamine.

The gang has made headlines in recent years following large-scale police drug busts and the murder of member Connor Morris.

The Charities Commission launched its investigation into the trust's activities in 2010 due to its concerns over Head Hunters involvement.

That Was Then This Is Now Charitable Trust's premises were also the gang's East Chapter headquarters in the Auckland suburb of Mt Wellington.

East 88 Property Holdings owns the trust's premises. That company is owned by Head Hunters Members and directed by Doyle.

The facilities on Marua Rd include a swimming pool and gym facilities but are not open for use to the public or local schools as claimed by the trust.

It is also the same location as Fight Club 88, a mixed martial arts gym frequented by Head Hunters members.

The decision said the premises was used as free or cheap accommodation for Head Hunters and their families, gang members were allowed to use the trust's car in a way that breached bail conditions and the gym facilities were not open to the public or local schools, as the trust had claimed.

The Charities Registration Board also said its investigation found the trust did not carry out drug and alcohol counselling, or prisoner mentoring at Waikeria Prison, as it claimed.

Waitemata DHB Community Alcohol and Drug Services confirmed it had referred clients to the trust but this was before the trust was registered as a charitable entity and did not pertain to its current activities, according to the decision.

And while it listed one of its charitable endeavours as donating to charitable causes, those donations accounted for just 3 per cent of the trust's spending during the year to March 2015 and 1 per cent the previous year.

It did, however, use trust money to provide refreshments for a Head Hunters funeral, and contribute towards the cost of a circus.

In 2013, the trust won an appeal to be granted a licence to conduct a lottery exceeding $50,000 by the Gambling Commission, following a failed application in 2011.

Following the trust's application to carry out the lottery the Department of Internal Affairs obtained a report from police that expressed concern about what the money would be used for.

"A licensed class 3 raffle has the potential to be misused as a vehicle for the laundering of cash acquired from illegal activity (such as drug sales).

Police also said they worried any significant cash located at premises associated with the gang could be "explained away" as being takings from the sale of raffle tickets.

 - Stuff

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