The recovery of justice services in Christchurch is making excellent progress, Minister for Courts Chester Borrows said during a visit to the city today.
Minister Borrows visited seven Ministry of Justice facilities, including the successful District Court operation at Ngā Hau e Whā marae in the eastern suburbs, and the site of a new central city courthouse.
The new courthouse currently being constructed on Cambridge Terrace will be used for a range of criminal and civil hearings, with a focus on High Court and District Court jury trials. The first court hearings from the new courthouse will begin in mid-March.
“Returning services to the central city is a priority for the Ministry of Justice,” said Mr Borrows.
“The new courthouse is a symbol of the Ministry’s continuing commitment to investing in the city of Christchurch, and I am pleased that it is the Courts which are leading the return of government agencies back to the CBD and I hope this gives confidence to the people of Canterbury.”
A number of modular buildings are being used to construct the purpose-designed building. It is anticipated that court services will operate from the new facility for around two years.
Mr Borrows also visited the District Court operation, which was established at Ngā Hau e Whā marae at Aranui in mid-April last year. The innovation of basing court operations within the community was borne out of necessity, but has had a lasting positive impact, said the Minister.
“The experience of holding hearings at Ngā Hau e Whā has created a number of unanticipated benefits. One of these is having government and non-government services working from the single location, but locating court hearings in truly community venues reinforces that the responsibility to see justice done rests with us all.
“Also, the court is easy to access in post-earthquake Christchurch, and is in the heart of a community hit hardest by the earthquake,” he said.
Mr Borrows also met with staff working from the Ministry’s registry facility in Sockburn; Coronial Services and Legal Services staff based in Burnside; and Māori Land Court and District Court staff working from the Aoraki House/Māori Land Court building in the city.
Court services currently operate from three permanent courthouses in the central city as well as Ngā Hau e Whā marae. More details are available from: www.justice.govt.nz/media/christchurch-earthquake-response-2011