Rangiora Courthouse to remain closed

CATE BROUGHTON
Last updated 17:22 10/12/2013

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North Canterbury

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The earthquake damaged Rangiora Courthouse is to remain closed, with court services for North Canterbury to continue in Christchurch.

Minister for Courts, Chester Borrows said Rangiora District Court had been successfully operating out of central Christchurch since the courthouse was temporarily closed in November 2011.

Borrows said engineers had put the cost to repair the earthquake prone building at $1.3 million.

''Given Rangiora's small and declining workload, the success of the temporary arrangements and the investment going into the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services precinct, I don't think it is a good use of taxpayers' money to strengthen the court,'' Borrows said.

Rangiora would be one of the first communities in the country linked to a trial of web-video conferencing technology in the Family Court making face to face service less needed.

The building would be sold and Ngāi Tahu would be given the first opportunity to purchase it Borrows said.

Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers said he was very disappointed to learn of the court's fate.

''Court services have been provided in this district for well over 100 years, it's a growing district and I think North Canterbury deserves to have its own court facility.'' 

Ayers said the state of the building was a separate issue to the ongoing provision of services in the region.

''Court services could conceivably be offered in Rangiora or anywhere in North Canterbury without being in that building.

''I understand the connection, but it's not the only issue, it's quite clear they intend to centralise courts in the big cities.''

Lawyer Keith Hales said North Canterbury had lost a focal point for all of the justice and associated services that operate in the region.

''I am extremely dismayed and annoyed with the attitude of the politicians to this important issue so far as the North Canterbury community is concerned.''

The loss of the court would compromise legal services and would make them more expensive, Hales said.

''It has badly damaged the fabric of our work with in the court system because we have to factor in at least an hour of travel each time we are needed in court and that is not only of huge inconvenience to us but it comes, sadly, at the expense of our clients.''

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