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Monday, April 4, 2011

Marae to host court hearings

Marae to host court hearings

Last updated 15:44 04/04/2011
A Christchurch marae is set to turn into a courthouse as key justice buildings in the city remain closed.

From April 18 Nga Hau e Wha marae on Pages Rd, Wainoni, will be the base for criminal list hearings.

The criminal list includes remand hearings, first appearances and summary sentencings. It usually runs daily in the Christchurch Courthouse on Durham St.

The courthouse may be closed for months as it is within the orange zone.

District Courts general manager Tony Fisher admitted it was "unique'' to have a judge hear cases in a marae, but the Ministry of Justice was "being flexible''.

Other emergency locations used by the ministry in Christchurch since February 22's tremor include the Wigram Airforce Museum and Riccarton Racecourse.

Over the last six weeks urgent cases have been heard at Rangiora District Court and at Christchurch Men's Prison. Both venues will continue to be used.

Fisher said a limited number of cases would go to the marae to begin with and defendants would be notified when their next hearing was via text message.

Allister Davis, chair of the Canterbury-Westland branch of the Law Society, said re-establishing the list court was a step towards normality.

"Once the list court is up and running we will have duty solicitors available in a number of locations," he said.

"We have had to take a measured planning approach to our duty rosters to ensure we can service the needs of the courts but have sufficient numbers to deliver justice to those people appearing before the various courts.''

When possible list court is expected to move to the Maori Land Court Building on Peterborough St.

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