New Zealand’s ‘dis­gust­ing’ court­houses


Some New Zealand court­houses have been la­belled ‘‘dis­gust­ing’’, ‘‘dis­grace­ful’ and ‘‘dirty’’ by the lawyers who use them most.

The Fe­bru­ary edi­tion of the New Zealand Law So­ci­ety’s mag­a­zine LawTalk gives a de­tailed ac­count into the cur­rent state of the coun­try’s court­houses.

While some courts had glow­ing re­views, the ar­ti­cle paints a pic­ture of others fall­ing into dis­ar­ray, with shoddy wi-fi and blocked toi­lets.

Ac­cord­ing to LawTalk, Auck­land bar­ris­ter Sam Wim­set wrote to Jus­tice Min­is­ter An­drew Lit­tle last year say­ing: ‘‘In a city where both Crown and de­fence coun­sel are of a high qual­ity, the lo­cal bench has ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion and Court staff are pleas­ant and ef­fi­cient, it is un­be­liev­able the fa­cil­i­ties could be so poor.’’

The screen used to re­move wit­nesses from view, of­ten to pro­tect their iden­tity or keep them away from their al­leged of­fender’s sight, was partly an old pro­jec­tor screen with ‘‘a piece of plas­tic that had brown pa­per taped over it’’, LawTalk re­ported.

A de­cline in main­te­nance and al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources was also to blame for the run­down Auck­land and Waita¯kere Dis­trict Courts, LawTalk said.

One lawyer told the mag­a­zine Waita¯ kere Dis­trict Court ‘‘should just be pulled down’’ and that ‘‘you’d strug­gle to find a good thing to say about that court­house’’.

The toi­lets at Auck­land Dis­trict Court were ap­par­ently strug­gling

‘‘You'd strug­gle to find a good thing to say about that court­house.’’

to keep up with de­mand. ‘‘The pub­lic ar­eas in Auck­land Dis­trict Court are shabby and dirty, prac­ti­tion­ers say, the pub­lic toi­lets are ‘dis­grace­ful’ and of­ten blocked. One de­scribes it as be­ing ‘no­to­ri­ously run-down and over­crowded’,’’ the ar­ti­cle read.

The meet­ing rooms were de­scribed as be­ing small, with­out air­con­di­tion­ing, dam­aged and dirty and some­times with wa­ter on the floor.

Min­istry of Jus­tice gen­eral man­ager for com­mer­cial and prop­erty Fraser Gibbs told LawTalk work was al­ways be­ing done to re­pair and ren­o­vate the court­houses.

‘‘We’re con­scious that some build­ings, such as the court­house in Ro­torua, have a range of main­te­nance is­sues, and are in­ves­ti­gat­ing op­tions to ad­dress them.’’

Work was go­ing to be done to im­prove the cells and safety of the peo­ple who are held there, Gibbs said.


The Waita¯kere Dis­trict Court should be ‘‘pulled down’’ ac­cord­ing to one lawyer.

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