Hawke's Bay Ministry of Justice workers were among many nationally who walked out of courtrooms this morning, bringing an abrupt halt to trials and hearings.

Workers at both Napier and Hastings courthouses braved the rain to strike while courts were closed to the public for two hours from 10.30am because of industrial action by the Public Service Association (PSA) members.

The PSA notified the Ministry of Justice its members would strike for two hours until 12.30pm, and have gathered outside several prominent courthouses, including the High Court at Auckland.

Ministry of Justice chief executive Andrew Bridgman the safety of those who work and visit New Zealand's courthouses was the "highest priority".


"So we have decided to close courthouses and tribunal offices during the duration of the industrial action," he said.

Bridgman added bargaining on a new contract with the PSA has been under way for several months.

"The ministry remains open and committed to reaching a negotiated settlement and we're ready to meet at any time," he said.

The ministry has offered a 5 per cent increase over two years, in line with other agreements in the public sector.

However, the PSA has requested an increase of more than 13 per cent.

The union earlier said it also sought to close the gender pay gap for ministry workers.

The average female employee at the ministry is paid 15 per cent less than the average male worker, the PSA said.

It is a larger gender pay gap than the average public sector department of 12 per cent.

"The PSA believes the ministry does not properly value some female-dominated roles - and our efforts to strike a deal to reduce this pay gap and have staff properly valued have so far come to nothing," PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk said.