Blind and Low Vision NZ is launching an independent "culture review" after getting complaints about the treatment of clients and employees.
Blind Citizens New Zealand president Dr Jonathan Godfrey said a delegation from his organisation met Blind and Low Vision NZ two weeks ago to bring to their attention a number of complaints raised by members.
Godfrey would not elaborate on the nature or the number of complaints saying the organisation was encouraging members to speak for themselves as part of the review.
In response to the meeting Blind and Low Vision NZ agreed to launch a "culture review", which they announced yesterday.
Blind and Low Vision NZ board chairwoman Judy Small said it was still very early days and the organisation did not yet know how founded the allegations were.
She told the Herald that staff and the organisation's wider community were told on Thursday morning there would be an investigation.
The first step would be to appoint an independent person to lead it, she said.
The board of Blind and Low Vision NZ told members of Blind Citizens NZ it would review "issues relating to its provision of services, relationships with clients, organisational culture (particularly focusing on employee relationships) and decisions around service changes".
The board said it welcomed the chance to focus on "improving its relationships and interactions with staff, clients and other stakeholders".
The statement to staff explained issues concerning "organisational culture" had been raised at the most recent board meeting and the board had agreed to work with chief executive John Mulka to independently identify those areas and make changes.
"This year we are going to be making our people, employee wellbeing and building and maintaining trust and confidence among our people and members a key priority of the chief executive (and the board in support of the chief executive) over the remainder of the year."
The first steps were a "culture survey" started recently and re-establishing the general manager of human resources and organisational development role as well as the general manager of fundraising role.
Small said Blind and Low Vision NZ took seriously any allegation or suggestion it had fallen short and would investigate appropriately.
"It's about the culture in the organisation and it's about some resistance to change. The organisation has changed quite significantly."
She said the review would also establish if it was a "few people making a lot of noise or whether it's a big crowd of people who are really unhappy".
"We need to have really good terms of reference to make sure the review does what it needs to do to get everybody's voice included that needs to be," Small said.
Godfrey said Blind Citizens NZ believed the right and necessary steps had been taken and was looking forward to its involvement in creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone's participation.
Chief executive John Mulka has also been contacted for comment.
Blind and Low Vision NZ provides a range of services to thousands of sight-impaired New Zealanders, including library services, guide dogs, braille, education and financial support.
It has 19 offices around the country and last year suported 13,889 clients.
About 4 per cent of Kiwis were living with blindness or low vision but one in five people would experience it in their lifetime.
In the 2020 financial year, the charity received $23.6 million in donations and recorded a total revenue of $36.2m but ended the year with a deficit of $1.2m.
It also listed $118.3m worth of assets, including $8.6m in investment property.