Minister applauds work of courts supporting Christchurch

Press Release – New Zealand Government

Court Registrars and court staff across Christchurch and Canterbury had given extraordinary service to ensure the continuity of justice services for Christchurch following the February 22nd earthquake, Courts Minister Georgina te Heuheu said today.
Hon Georgina te Heuheu
Minister for Courts
2 November 2011 Media Statement

Minister applauds work of courts supporting Christchurch

Court Registrars and court staff across Christchurch and Canterbury had given extraordinary service to ensure the continuity of justice services for Christchurch following the February 22nd earthquake, Courts Minister Georgina te Heuheu said today.

Mrs te Heuheu made the comments as she visited courthouses at Timaru, Ashburton and Rangiora to talk with staff and thank them for their work since the earthquake.

“The impact of the Christchurch earthquake on court and justice services has seen the Ministry of Justice innovate and respond with new ways of working,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

“This has meant moving away from the traditional way of working, with its focus on single jurisdictions, and courtrooms used for specific purposes.

“It has involved looking beyond traditional court boundaries, and seeking the co-operation of courts outside of Christchurch to help maintain access to justice for the people of Christchurch.

“Keeping justice services running has required a high degree of co-ordination and collaboration. Staff have shown a willingness to work in different jurisdictions, and to relocate for limited periods of time, to ensure service continuity.

“The efforts of staff across the region have been outstanding. I am incredibly impressed by the level of support and hard work that has been provided over the past eight months,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

Timaru District Court has played a key role in providing Christchurch court services, and has been the primary mainstay for Christchurch jury trials since April.

An additional 51 jury trials have been held in Timaru between April and October, and a further 15 are scheduled before the end of the year.

“The Timaru community have also played their part in performing their civic duty as jurors at these trials,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

Ashburton District Court is being used by a variety of different jurisdictions including the District and High Courts, the Family Court as well as specialist tribunal hearings such as the Accident Compensation Appeal Authority and the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal.

Rangiora District Court has been used as Christchurch’s arrest court since March. Its proximity to Christchurch means it has played a vital role in keeping justice services available.

“The single courtroom at Rangiora District Court had previously been in use for around two days a week, but that swiftly moved to six days of sitting time after the earthquake,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

“It is the only facility in the wider Christchurch area with secure custodial facilities/cells, and is also used for criminal defended hearings and custodial sentencing hearings.”

Visiting court staff and thanking them for their sterling effort in challenging times had been very worthwhile, Mrs te Heuheu said.
Background

• The Ministry of Justice is supporting the full range of court and justice services in Christchurch. In spite of the challenging environment and far from ideal courtroom and hearing space that is in use, most jurisdictions are keeping pace with the volume of cases coming into the system.

• District Court services are held within two courtrooms at Ngā Hau e Whā marae, as well as at Aoraki House/Māori Land Court which opened for court services on 15 June 2011.

• High Court, Family Court, Disputes Tribunal and other civil matters are heard in multi-jurisdictional venues such as Wigram Air Force Museum, Riccarton Racecourse, Aoraki House and courts outside of Christchurch.

• Youth Court hearings are held at New Brighton Community Board each Friday and Youth Drug Court sits at Odyssey House each fortnight.

• Victim Services: Victim Advisors are contacting victims to offer services. In addition, victims can phone the Victim Information line 0800 650 654 for further information.

• Enquiries from the Christchurch area and for help with court matters, fines or any other justice-related service should be made to freephone number: 0800 324 627.
ENDS

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