What it means to be a shareholder

Your rights and responsibilities as a company shareholder

As a shareholder, you're an investor in a company, and your details are listed on the company's own share register, and on the Companies Register.

Issuing shares

To raise money to start or grow, a company may issue shares. How those shares are arranged, and who holds them, is managed through share allocations.

Rights and responsibilities of shareholders

As a shareholder you:

  • aren't responsible for, and don't participate in, the day-to-day management of the company (unless you have authority from the company to do so), and
  • have the right to a percentage of any distribution or dividend paid to shareholders, based on how many shares you own.

Voting at company meetings

Shareholders generally have the right to cast 1 vote for every share they hold at company meetings. Issues voted on can include:

  • appointing or removing directors or auditors
  • adopting, altering or revoking the company's constitution
  • approving a major transaction
  • approving a long form amalgamation
  • putting the company into liquidation
  • closing the company.

If a company fails

If a company goes into receivership and you haven't yet paid for your shares in full, you may be forced to pay the balance owing for those shares.

If a company goes into liquidation and sells its assets, you have the right to a proportion of the money that's raised from the sale, but only after creditors have been paid.

Registering shareholders

Every company must register details of its shares and shareholders on its own share register. Those details also appear on the Companies Register.

Get advice about buying shares

Investing in shares carries a level of risk. Information on the Sorted website may help you make an informed decision about buying shares.

All help topics

Before you start a company 5 guides

Get an overview of how companies are structured, find out about the company records you need to keep, and what's involved when you incorporate with and report to the Companies Office.

Shares and shareholders 7 guides

When you incorporate, you must provide details of all company shares and shareholders. As changes occur, you must update this information on your own share register and in your company's annual return.

Company directors 7 guides

Directors have responsibilities to their company and shareholders, and under the Companies Act 1993. You must register all your directors with the Companies Office and they must sign a consent form.​

Filing annual returns 7 guides

Find out about filing an annual return — the information you need to update, how to change your filing month or request a time extension — and what happens if you don't file your annual return by the due date.

Complying with the law 11 guides

Financial reporting 7 guides

Restoring a company to the register 4 guides

Only some companies can be reinstated to the Companies Register once they've been removed. Find out who can apply, what evidence to provide and if you should apply to the Registrar or the High Court.

Getting support to use the Companies Register 5 guides

Get help with any technical problems you have using the register, such as uploading documents or searching for companies, directors and shareholders.