New Courts Minister impressed by efforts of Christchurch staff

  • Chester Borrows

Earthquake recovery continues to have widespread impact on court and justice services across New Zealand, Minister for Courts Chester Borrows said today.

A firsthand look inside Christchurch’s main courthouse yesterday provided a valuable insight into the demands of frontline recovery efforts. The Minister visited the main court building in Durham Street, as well as viewing the Family Court on Armagh Street which opened for hearings in mid-November.

"The Ministry of Justice is the first public agency to return services to parts of Christchurch that were once inside the central business district red zone. Returning court services to their original buildings is a valuable part of restoring the city, but there is a long way to go before any services are able to function like they did before 22 February," says Mr Borrows.

The impact of the earthquake on justice services and for courts across the country is ongoing. The Ministry recently made a decision to temporarily close six courts around the country in order for the buildings to be structurally strengthened.

"This important step naturally impacted on services but was deemed necessary to minimise future risk in the post-earthquake New Zealand that we now live in.

“I congratulate the Ministry for all of its efforts in terms of responding to and recovering from the 22 February earthquake. The road has not been a smooth one and I know that it is testament to the dedication and enthusiasm of court staff, who just keep pushing through to improve services for the people of the Canterbury region," says Mr Borrows.

The resumption of jury trials in February 2012 will be another important milestone for justice in Christchurch. Summons information was sent out to 900 residents this week and the ability to operate trials will be reliant on the community attending jury service and ensuring that justice can keep moving.