The campaign instigated by New Zealand's investing community in the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attacks is gaining some traction, with a number of international asset owners adding their support.

Over the last week, the campaign led by NZ Super has gained a further nine supporters, including several UK and Australian pension funds. This takes the total number of sign-ups to 32, a group representing around $700 billion of assets.

The objective of the engagement is to convince social media companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter to strengthen their controls, prevent hate speech and block obviously objectionable content such as the live streaming of a mass shooting.

After the live broadcast of the March 15 Christchurch mosque atrocity on Facebook, NZ Super's chief executive Matt Whineray spoke of the collective “shock and outrage” that such footage could be allowed to proliferate unchecked on a global public platform.

“These companies’ social licence to operate has been severely damaged," he said. "We will be calling on Facebook, Google and Twitter to take more responsibility for what is published on their platforms. An urgent remedy to this problem is required.”

The original NZ members of the campaign have been joined by the UK's Church of England Pensions Board, Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, Greater Manchester Pension Fund, West Yorkshire Pension Fund and Merseyside Pension Fund, among others (see full list below).

Australian pension institutions have also rallied to the cause including Australian Ethical, Vic Super, Hesta and LG Super.

The campaign's chief spokesman, NZ Super Fund's Whineray, told AsianInvestor he had been delighted with the "swift and wholehearted" response from sections of the international community. "We are now seeking the involvement of other leading institutional investors globally,” he said, including global sovereign funds and asset owners in the US.

Whineray addressed an audience of sovereign investment heads and other influential global investors at a conference in London last Thursday and also had individual meetings with a few funds while in the UK.

“Collective action from multiple investors has the best chance of success. The combination of New Zealand’s investor voice and a global coalition of shareholders has the potential to be immensely powerful,” he said.

As the campaign continues to gain support, Whineray said the next step is to progress the campaign's research and engagement strategy. NZ Super's in-house environmental, social and governance (ESG) team, he added, will play a leading role in this.

On Friday, at the Hong Kong rugby sevens tournament, a minute’s silence was observed before the game between New Zealand and Australia, with both teams standing arm in arm. This was the first time a New Zealand team in any sport had played a competitive game since the Christchurch atrocity.

NZ and Australian players at the Hong Kong Sevens pay respect to the Christchurch victims
(photo courtesy of Eyewitness News)
 

SUPPORTERS OF THE CAMPAIGN TO PRESSURE SOCIAL MEDIA

Leaders group (Crown-owned investors)

1. New Zealand Super Fund

2. Accident Compensation Corporation

3. Government Superannuation Fund

4. National Provident Fund

5. Kiwi Wealth

Confirmed participants – New Zealand

6. AMP Financial Services

7. ANZ New Zealand Investments

8. ASB

9. BNZ

10. Booster

11. BTNZ

12. Fisher Funds

13. Generate Kiwisaver

14. Harbour Asset Management

15. ISG (Devon Funds, JMI Wealth, Select Wealth and Clarity Funds)

16. MAS

17. Mercer NZ

18. Milford Asset Management

19. PIE Funds/Juno KiwiSaver Scheme

20. Rata Foundation (previously Canterbury Community Trust)

21. Simplicity

22. Trust Management Limited

23. Westpac / BT Funds Management

Confirmed participants – international

24. AMP Capital (NZ and International)

25. Australian Ethical

26. BMO Global Asset Management

27. Church of England Pensions Board

28. Church Commissioners

29. Greater Manchester Pension Fund (UK)

30. Hesta

31. LG Super

32. Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (UK)

33. Merseyside Pension Fund (UK)

34. VFMC

35. VicSuper

36. West Yorkshire Pension Fund (UK)