New Zealand Law Society - PM reopens historic Otago courthouse

PM reopens historic Otago courthouse

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The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reopened the historic Dunedin Courthouse on 26 January.

The Courthouse was originally opened in 1902. It underwent renovation in 2003 and a parade was held to celebrate the reopening that year. In 2011 it was closed due to earthquake risks. Last week, as in 2003, the profession was joined by the judiciary and members of the Otago University Law Faculty to mark the reopening.

The parade Alan Dove Photography

A special sitting was presided over by the Chief Justice who was joined on the bench by the Heads of Bench from the Court of Appeal, High Court and the District Court. The celebration was concluded with an evening ball hosted by the Otago Branch in the Town Hall.

The greystone Victorian Gothic building was closed in December 2011 – though some services remained until May 2015 - after being assessed as being as high risk in even a moderate earthquake.

Dunedin PM
Alan Dove Photography  

Since then all cases and hearings have been held in temporary facilities on High Street, as well as at John Wickliffe House.

Cabinet agreed to the strengthening and restoration of Dunedin's historic courthouse in 2015.

The Ministry of Justice has said the changes are designed to “substantially improve court capacity and capability, as well as an improved environment for the Judiciary and Ministry employees; court users; visitors and others associated with court appearances and processes.”