27 May 2024

All staff from charity Keep New Zealand Beautiful resigns

9:33 pm on 27 May 2024
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The Keep New Zealand Beautiful logo. Photo: supplied

The entire team behind Keep New Zealand Beautiful has resigned, warning the organisation will likely fold in the coming weeks.

The charity - that coined the phrase 'Be a Tidy Kiwi' - has been legislatively mandated to promote litter control since 1979.

Its chief executive Heather Saunderson has now accused the current and former government of bullying and under-funding the organisation.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful chief executive Heather Saunderson.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful chief executive Heather Saunderson. Photo: Supplied / Keep New Zealand Beautiful

"My entire team resigned in solidarity with me so it's obviously been a situation where there has been systematic bullying, both at an individual and organisational level," she told RNZ.

Saunderson, who has cancer, penned a now-public letter to the Ministry for the Environment and its minister two weeks ago, asking government representatives to meet with the charity.

"Frankly, I'm a dying woman and Keep New Zealand Beautiful will be a part of my legacy when I'm gone," she wrote.

"I would like to think that the momentum that the team and I have built over the past 15 years will continue and that the next generation of Tidy Kiwis will have the knowledge and skills to manage the environment that they'll inherit."

A spokesperson for the environment minister says the ministry was speaking to the charity's board - and the minister - Penny Simmonds - was across the situation.

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