NEW ZEALAND - A leader of the Green Party in New Zealand has criticised his country's state pension fund for investing in 12 companies the Norwegian State Pension Fund has rejected on ethical grounds.

NZ$64m (€33.6m) of the NZ$11.9bn New Zealand Superannuation Fund - more commonly known as NZ Super Fund - are invested in the following companies: Boeing, BAE Systems, EADS (European Aeronautic Defence & Space Company), Finmeccanica, Northrop Grumman, United Technologies, L-3 Communications Holdings, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Company, Freeport McMoran Copper, Wal-Mart in the US and Wal-Mart's Mexican subsidiary.

Following recommendations by its ethical committee the NOK1.5trn (€184bn) Norwegian state pension fund has excluded these companies for either human rights and labour violations, serious environmental damage or presumed involvement in either the production of nuclear weapons or of cluster bombs.

"When we criticise the ethical investment choices of the NZ Super Fund, we are told they do it to make a good return," Russel Norman, co-leader of the Green Party, said in a press release. "But the much larger Norway Pension Fund can make a high return on their investments while excluding nuclear bomb manufacturers."

In 2005 the Norwegian fund had 11.10% cumulative return and 22.5% return on equities, compared to 8.94% and 13% in 2005. The New Zealand fund returned 19.2% compared to 14.3% the year before.

"Adopting ethical investment principles has not adversely affected the Norway Pension Fund," the Green leader commented. He stressed that ethical investment was "essential if we are to make the transition to a sustainable economy".

Recently, the New Zealand fund has divested from Singapore Technologies Engineering, Alliant Techsystems, General Dynamic and Textron Systems because of their involvement in the production of anti-personnel mines.

"This divestment is a start but there is still a long way to go before the Super Fund behaves in a responsible manner," Norman noted.

Both the Norwegian State Pension Fund - Global and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund are signatories to the UN principles for Responsible Investment.