The Justice Minister has been reported as saying Tauranga needs a new courthouse.
The New Zealand Herald quotes Andrew Little as saying there are plans to completely redevelop the site.
"As I understand it, the existing courthouse building needs to come down and a new building put in its place. It's not a question of trying to patch up what's there, it's about ... a new building that is designed and fit for purpose,” he is quoted as saying.
The Herald reports that a recent jury trial was reportedly moved because of water dripping on to the judge's bench.
The February issue of Law Talk (issue 914) noted that the Tauranga courthouse had a number of problems and New Zealand Law Society Waikato Bay of Plenty branch President Russell Boot said local lawyers were “not at all happy” with the building.
The magazine reported that about 40 defence counsel share a kitchen with the Crown and trial witnesses; the one unisex toilet is frequently blocked by tree roots, and the Registrar’s Court and the Main Court are in different buildings. It was also found that there is no internal access to the cells for lawyers, who have to leave the courthouse and walk around to the cell area. Counsel frequently have to speak with clients in the public area, with interview rooms mainly reserved for duty lawyers or Justices of the Peace.
Fraser Gibbs, General Manager Commercial and Property at the Ministry of Justice, says some issues have been addressed but there remains other issues to be resolved, and he hasn’t ruled out a new courthouse.
“The leaks in the roof of the Tauranga Courthouse have been fixed and there is a maintenance plan in place, as with other buildings in the Ministry’s portfolio of buildings,” he says.
“However, there are wider issues with the city’s courthouse and the Ministry is developing a plan to address them. Until that plan, and the various options involved, has been finalised, we are unable to comment on any possible costs and timelines.”