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Justice Ministry Announces New Coronial System

Ministry Of Justice Announces Details Of New Coronial System

The Ministry of Justice today announced details of the new coronial system being established under the Coroners Act 2006 which takes effect on 1 July 2007.

Special Jurisdictions General Manager Stuart White says, “the changes will enhance public confidence in the integrity and independence of the coronial system.”

The new coronial system will move from 55 mostly part-time coroners to fourteen regionally-based full-time coroners, headed by the new role of Chief Coroner.

Stuart White says, “the Chief Coroner will be tasked with ensuring the integrity and effectiveness of the system. We expect an appointment in early 2007, followed by appointments of the new full-time coroners.

“The new full-time coroners will span the country in nine locations: Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Based in these regional centres the new coroners will travel to hear inquests in the region they serve ensuring close inter-action with local communities.”

The coroners and the Chief Coroner will be supported by a new Ministry of Justice Coronial Services Unit to be established early next year. The Unit will provide dedicated case-management resources and administrative support.

Key features of the Coroners Act 2006 include:
• Moving from part-time coroners to full-time coroners headed by a Chief Coroner.
• Better recognition of the different cultural and spiritual needs of families and those with a close relationship with the deceased.

• Clarification of roles of coroners and other agencies involved in investigating deaths.
• Improving the inquiry and inquest processes and allowing greater public access to
information.

The Ministry of Justice will be engaging with local communities, iwi, and professional groups in early 2007 to explain how the changes are being implemented.

“New Zealand’s coroners have done a very important job over the years, providing a professional service to the community without the resources and support system that will be offered by the new system,” says Stuart White.

ENDS

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