Ministry of Justice workers have walked out of the country's courtrooms this morning, bringing an abrupt halt to trials and hearings around New Zealand.

District and High Courts are closed to the public for two hours from 10.30am because of industrial action by 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.

The High Court at Auckland will still hear a limited number of hearings, all District Court matters will be rescheduled to future dates.

Arrest courts will still operate at 14 District Courts from 9am and 10.15am to deal with overnight arrests.

All Disputes Tribunal and Tenancy Tribunal hearings will be adjourned until the afternoon and public counters will be closed.

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.

Staff from the Auckland High Court protesting outside the High Court. Photo / Dean Purcell
Staff from the Auckland High Court protesting outside the High Court. Photo / Dean Purcell

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.

"These are not highly-paid workers: Last year, Justice had the third-lowest average salary in the public sector, and we believe they are slipping back even further."

District and High Courts will begin hearing matters again from 2.15pm.