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Essential justice services stabilised in Christchurch

Hon Georgina te Heuheu
Minister of Courts

18 March 2011

Essential justice services stabilised in Christchurch

Ministry of Justice staff working from a temporary office facility in Christchurch are helping to improve the delivery of essential justice services, Minister for Courts, Georgina te Heuheu said today.

“Essential services, including arrest courts, have operated successfully since the earthquake. Now that justice staff are working from this location they are able to underpin the delivery of other urgent services like Family Court and civil hearings. These staff will also provide crucial support as operations move from the reactive phase, to business recovery and business continuity,” said Mrs te Heuheu.

Mrs te Heuheu said around 70 Ministry staff members, including colleagues from the Legal Services Agency, started working at the temporary location in south west Christchurch this week. At this time, the Ministry of Justice is still unable to provide a public facing service in Christchurch, but management of court user enquiries and all other applications is being provided through a national call centre number – 0800 324 627.

“The staff members are working in atypical conditions to support the operations of the courts. These key managers and support staff are helping to further stabilise essential justice services in Christchurch.”

Criminal arrest courts are being dealt with at Rangiora District Court, urgent Family Court hearings are being held in a temporary location at Wigram Air Force Museum, and High Court matters are being managed through the Wellington High Court Registry.

All of the Ministry’s court buildings in central Christchurch are currently within the orange cordon, including the Environment Court building which is ‘red stickered’ and is unlikely to be reoccupied.

Mrs te Heuheu said a large proportion of the Ministry’s Christchurch-based staff are eager to return to work. In order for higher numbers of staff to return to work, a flexible roster system has been set up at the office facility so that staff can work shifts of four hours only.

She said there are around 220 Ministry of Justice staff in Christchurch and they have shown great resilience and dedication in the aftermath of the earthquake.

“They are doing a great job in difficult conditions.”

The Ministry has also been supporting the critical work of Coroners at the temporary mortuary at Burnham Military Camp. Mrs te Heuheu visited with staff working at the location earlier this month, and said her visit was both humbling and reassuring.

More information about affected justice services can be found on the Ministry of Justice website: www.justice.govt.nz

ENDS


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