The High Court has refused an application for the trial of a Kaitaia backpackers' lodge owner to be adjourned because his lawyer would not be available.

Lawyer Wayne McKean made the application in the High Court at Whangarei on Thursday, but Justice Mark Woolford said in the interest of justice, the trial of Michael Harris should proceed on September 12 this year.

Harris, 56, faces 12 charges of stupefying, nine of making and nine of possessing intimate visual recordings, one of attempted aggravated wounding and 20 of indecent assault.

Harris' trial had already been delayed because the lawyer he initially instructed, Doug Blaikie, suffered a stroke in August last year.


In court last week, Mr McKean said he would be overseas at the time the trial was due to start and it would be difficult for Harris to instruct another lawyer because of time constraints and the volume of paperwork to go through.

Justice Woolford said Harris was arrested and charged in October 2014, and that most of the 17 complainants lived abroad.

He said there would be plenty of time for any new lawyer who was assigned to come up to speed with the case.

An adjournment would mean the new trial date would not be available this year, he said. Harris' trial is set to take four weeks.

He was arrested on September 10, 2014, after a guest at his Main Street Lodge backpackers laid a complaint with Kaitaia police about an incident he alleged took place.

Police seized a camera and a computer from Harris' home and made an international appeal for possible victims to come forward, setting up a dedicated email address and 0800 number.

The alleged victims were mostly European men aged 18-25 who were longer-term guests staying in Harris' residence.

It is alleged that he sedated them with prescription drugs before photographing and indecently assaulting them.