Specialist Criminal Courts

District Court Judges are involved in a number of specialist criminal courts. These include the Alcohol and other Drug Treatment Court/Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua; the Family Violence Court; the New Beginning Court/Te Kooti o Timatanga Hou and the Matariki Court. Please note that these courts are not available in all parts of New Zealand, and not all defendants will be able to access these courts.

Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court/Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua

The Adult Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court deals with offenders who suffer from alcohol and other drug addiction or dependency and whose offending has been driven by this. The Court aims to “break the cycle” where offending is fuelled by these unresolved alcohol and other drug issues. The focus of the Adult Alcohol and other Drug Court is treating the cause of the offending rather than the offending itself, aiming to reduce reoffending as result. The Court provides offenders with an opportunity to participate in an alcohol and other drug treatment programme prior to sentencing.

Picture of Judge Lisa Tremewan. Head and shoulders.

I have been a judge for ten years, sitting at the Waitakere District Court.

A highlight of my judicial career has been my role in the establishment of the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court/Te Whare Whakpiki Wairua, together with my colleague Judge Ema Aitken. This court is designed to “break the cycle” where offending has its origins in, or is fuelled by, serious unresolved alcohol and other drug issues. Where this is achieved, it is not only better and safer for the community, but also for offenders and their families.

The Whare Whakapiki Wairua applies well-researched evidence-based best practices. At this early stage, the court’s outcomes are extremely encouraging. We anticipate achieving results similar to those successful overseas courts that apply best-practice principles.

Judge Lisa Tremewan

District Courts of New Zealand Annual Report 2015

New Beginnings Court/Te Kooti o Timatanga Hou

The New Beginnings Court in Auckland deals with offenders who are homeless. The Court currently sits once a month. The aim of the New Beginnings Court is to ensure that the necessary social and health supports are provided to address the underlying causes (legal, social and health-related) of the offending and the homelessness while also holding offenders accountable and ensuring that victim’s issues are addressed.

Picture of Judge Tony Fitzgerald.Te Kooti o Timatanga Hou/The Court of New Beginnings in Auckland deals with offenders who are homeless. It is my privilege to preside at the monthly sittings of the Court.

The Court process involves a non-adversarial, coordinated, inter-agency approach to addressing the legal, social and health-related issues that have led t the participants’ offending and their homelessness. As well as holding them accountable for their offending, and ensuring that victims’ issues are addressed, the Court ensures that the necessary social and health supports are provided to address the underlying causes of the offending and the homelessness.

The Court started in 2010 and evaluations have shown that this approach greatly reduces reoffending rates (by 66%), and saves on nights spent in prison (by 78%) and hospital admissions (by 78%). It is a great example of how the Court can work collaboratively with the community to bring about positive change.

Judge Tony Fitzgerald

District Courts of New Zealand Annual Report 2015

Matariki Court

Matariki: Huarahi ki te orange tangata

The Matariki Court is based in Kaikohe, Northland. Where a person pleads guilty to an offence, but before the court imposes a sentence on that person, the court will allow the offender to participate in a culturally appropriate rehabilitation programme (under the Sentencing Act 2002, s 25).

The offender’s iwi, hapū and whānau may be involving in developing the rehabilitation programme. If the offender successfully completes this programme, the court will take this into account when it sets the final sentence.

Matariki Court application process. Defendant has to apply, be accepted and comp

Matariki Court Application Process Chart

Picture of Judge Greg Davies. Head and shoulders.

E ngā mana
E ngā reo, tēnā koutou katoa.
Ki ngā tini aituā e ai ki a tatou, e kore nga mihi
ki a koutou e mutu.
He uri o Rahiri tenei e mihi atu ki a koutou.
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

In the far north where I sit, we work with the assistance of Ngapuhi and groups within Ngapuhi communities. In dealing with offenders and victims in our community, whānau hold a critical piece of the puzzle to assist in reducing Māori crime.

There are no quick or easy solutions to the rate of offending in our communities. Working with whānau and the community networks generally will provide a broader understanding fo the role and functions of the Court, and ensure that the Court has quality information about offenders and their communities.

Judge Greg Davis

District Courts of New Zealand Annual Report 2013