Government email botch-up causes mental health charity to be deregistered for months

The director of a mental health charity says an email botch-up by a major government department ended with his business being deregistered and not restored for months - affecting dozens of patients. 

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has apologised for the blunder and made changes to its IT system. However the complainant isn't convinced the problem's been fixed. 

Frontiers of Hope director Michael Hempseed's career is all about supporting those on the brink, including helping people with depression and reducing our dire suicide statistics. 

But just as his business was getting off the ground, it was abruptly removed from the Companies Register. 

"It has been an absolute nightmare trying to fix this," Hempseed said. 

Hempseed was required to update the details of his company, simple things like confirming its address.

He said an email was sent with all the pertinent information. 

MBIE issued an auto-reply confirming the details were received but unbeknown to him, the critical email he'd sent vanished into thin air - it hadn't been received after all. 

"It's a stunning level of incompetence. You would think even a very small organisation wouldn't make this mistake. This is a major government department," Hempseed said.

MBIE apologised for the error and for causing distress. The agency said the email didn't get through as its attachments were too large. 

MBIE says its mailbox limit is 20 megabytes - although Hempseed says his email was only 10.2 megabytes. 

  • If you have further information, contact Michael Morrah in confidence by emailing 

When Newshub started asking questions, MBIE initiated a review and changed its systems.

MBIE has now increased the email limit on the mailbox from 20MB to 100MB. However, Hempseed says the most testing part of the ordeal was the hours he spent trying to get his company restored. 

"Five months… a two-minute phone call could have addressed this," he said.

He said it wasted his time and those he was trying to help. 

"The saddest part for me is if I hadn't wasted all this time, we could have set up new services, we could have set up new interventions and there are dozens and dozens of people that we could have treated," Hempseed said.

MBIE is "not aware" of any other emails not getting through but Hempseed wonders how they would know.