Oamaru courthouse. Photos by ODT.
The Government will today confirm whether court services
in Oamaru and Balclutha will be retained in their existing
Proposals to streamline the New Zealand court system and
slash 31 jobs at 13 courts were announced by the Ministry of
Justice in October.
As part of those plans it was proposed that Oamaru and
Balclutha District Courts be re-designated as hearing-only
courts, which would mean the closure of district court
At least two staff at the Oamaru District Court and two in
Balclutha could be out of work if administrative functions
are moved to Timaru and Dunedin respectively, as proposed.
The Public Service Association has warned that any job losses
would meet a ''backlash'' from provincial New Zealand.
PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff said the public
wanted face-to-face services and any forced redundancies
would hit communities hard.
''These are good, skilled jobs being taken out of provincial
New Zealand, where good jobs are increasingly hard to find."
Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said he hoped Balclutha would
retain its two registrars.
''I will be really disappointed if this ... cornerstone
service is withdrawn from our community. Every community needs
The Government does not have figures on public use of the
Oamaru and Balclutha registry offices, which are to be cut
under its proposal.
The Otago Daily Times had requested the figures in
October but was told by a Ministry of Justice spokesman it
did not collect that data on a court-by-court basis.
The courthouses in Balclutha and Oamaru were two of seven
courts closed last year after they were deemed to be at risk
of collapse in an earthquake.
For the past year, Balclutha criminal court hearings have
been held in Gore, while Oamaru sittings have taken place at
the town's Opera House.
In October, Courts Minister Chester Borrows said remedial
work on the Balclutha courthouse was not being considered
because of structural issues with the building, including
An assessment of the cost to earthquake strengthen the Oamaru
courthouse is still being completed.