Rangiora court's fate uncertain

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 12:26 03/10/2012
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UNKNOWN: The fate of the Rangiora courthouse is still uncertain.

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The fate of the Rangiora courthouse is still uncertain following major changes to the District Court network announced today.

The courthouse was one of six courts closed in late 2011 due to risk to the public in an earthquake.

The Rangiora District Court had been tipped to be part of a major re-alignment of court services around New Zealand announced by Courts Minister Chester Borrows this morning.

The changes meant nine small courts from around New Zealand would now only be used for hearings, rather than being open five days a week, and four small courts being disestablished.

However, Waimakariri MP Kate Wilkinson announced today she had managed to secure a reprieve for the Rangiora District Court.

"I have bought our local court more time to continue efforts to retain services in Rangiora and I will myself keep fighting," Wilkinson said.

"The issue is now being reviewed and I am hopeful that we can persuade the Minister of the unique need for Rangiora to retain court services, acting as it does as a catchment for the greater North Canterbury area."

A statement from the ministry of justice this morning said it was "not yet in a position to take a decision on the future of the Rangiora Court".

"The courthouse has a Category II Historic Places Trust classification and strengthening the 125-year-old building is not straightforward. The demographics of the Canterbury region are changing as a consequence of the 2011 earthquake and we need to understand how this will affect the demand for courts in the region," the statement said.

"The Ministry will now undertake further engineering assessments of the courthouse as well as a more detailed assessment of demand for courts in the region. We will also consider if there are any suitable options for holding hearings locally in the interim."

This work was expected to be completed in the first half of next year.

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