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Government announces court closures

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  • Government announces court closures

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    The Government has announced court closures as a part of changes being made to the Justice ministry. Four courtrooms are to close in Feilding, Upper Hutt, Warkworth and Whataroa.

    Nine more local courts will only be used for hearings, instead of being open five days a week. Courts minister Chester Borrows made no mention of how many jobs will go but said the Justice ministry is consulting with staff.

    Borrows said Whataroa court, with only 11 sitting hours spread over four days in 2011, is one of the least-used courts in the country. Warkworth had less than 20 full days sitting time over 2011.

    Feilding and Upper Hutt courts have been closed since November 2011 because of earthquake risk. Nearby Palmerston North and Lower Hutt courts have taken on their work load.

    Borrows said the changes were the first for 30 years. "With many small District Courts sitting empty three or four days a week, moving nine courts to hearing-only courts presents an effective way to ensure local hearings are still available in communities where they are needed," he said.

    The hearing-only courts will be Dargaville, Waihi, Te Awamutu, Te Kuiti, Opotiki, Marton, Waipukurau, Oamaru and Balclutha. Law Society courthouse spokesperson Iain Hutcheson said courthouses in provincial centres serve many purposes, include the filing of proceedings, witnessing and swearing of official documents, marriage and civil union services, debt recovery and other civil proceedings.

    "If closure of some courts is driven by the promise of better delivery of those services through technological advances, we would prefer the technology to be in place and operating to a proven minimum standard before any closures occur, he said.
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