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Auckland (12 February 2007) - The Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation Board has received criticisms for its holdings in a number of companies.

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund is an investment fund which aims at maximising return for all New Zealand tax payers and with a mandate to avoid prejudice to New Zealand's reputation as a responsible member of the world community.

David May, Chairman of the Board of the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, said: "We have been taking a number of steps to lead the way in terms of Responsible Investment, and overall our policies and practices on Responsible Investment compare well with our international peers." 

The Fund has divested from companies involved in land-mine manufacture and in the production of whale meat. The Fund is a founding member of the UN Principles on Responsible Investment, a member of the Ethical Investment Association and a signatory to the Carbon Disclosure project. The Fund was also active in assisting in the development of New Zealand Guidelines on Corporate Governance.

"The Fund has over 3000 holdings in its portfolio which are selected by external managers", said Mr May. "The Fund takes an active stance in ensuring its investment mandate is respected and has a framework for screening companies against the UN Global Compact. The Fund has started to engage with companies identified as having poor practices and aims to work with other investors under the auspices of the UN PRI. The Fund believes this kind of engagement has the best chance of influencing corporate behaviour."

As part of its Responsible Investment programme, the Guardians have already scheduled to address key issues which are not normally covered in international standards like the UN principles, such as nuclear arms.

"Some of these issues are very complex. For example, the Fund has been criticised for holding shares in Boeing. Boeing is the most common manufacturer of aircraft in the world, and a key supplier to many governments and airlines, yet produces some military components. The Guardians are committed to maintaining and refining a workable framework for managing reputational issues within these operational realities. These are issues which are under review and will be addressed by the Board", concludes Mr May.





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