4 Apr 2011

Criminal court set to open at Christchurch marae

4:30 pm on 4 April 2011

The Ministry of Justice is opening a new criminal court at a marae in Christchurch as it struggles to catch up with a backlog of cases.

The earthquake on 22 February caused severe damage to many buildings in central Christchurch and put court buildings out of action.

A number of temporary sites have been set up.

District Courts general manager Tony Fisher says the new site will be at Nga Hau e Wha marae in the eastern suburbs.

Mr Fisher says normal court protocol will be followed for criminal list proceedings and he is making a distinction with the restorative justice type approach in use at many marae throughout New Zealand.

Court staff will also use texts to contact defendants about their hearings dates, as people are likely to have changed addresses after the quake, he says.

The court will begin operating on 18 April.