A new "courthouse of the future" will be built in Tauranga with a $100 million price tag, Justice Minister Andrew Little said this morning.
The courthouse will be designed in partnership with iwi, the local community, the judiciary, the legal profession, court staff and other court users.
Little said he had taken on feedback about the "alienating and distressing" environment of the courthouse and that it was time to re-think the traditional courthouse design.
The announcement, originally planned for Friday but rescheduled after the eruption of Whakaari, was made in the court's McLean House. In the crowd were district and high court judges, Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell, local Labour MPs Jan Tinetti and Angie Warren-Clark, iwi leaders, Western Bay of Plenty police area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton and representatives of organisations that use the court.
Last year, the Bay of Plenty Times revealed there were a raft of issues with the courthouse building on Cameron Rd, including toxic mould and decaying timber frames in the walls.
In July this year top lawyers and police officers in Tauranga went public with their long-held concerns about the state of the courthouse.
Little said Tauranga would be getting a "courthouse of the future" and the new building would be "fitting and appropriate for a city that is New Zealand's fifth largest by population".
He said the court would most likely built on the existing site on Cameron Rd and McLean St and would have a High Court facility.
"That means both buildings going."
That plan could change if a better location was identified during the consultation and design process.
He said this would be no ordinary build.
"This is an opportunity to rethink the whole idea of what a courthouse in the 21st century should do."
Little said the decision to go ahead with this project had been pulled together in the last few weeks.
"We had to make a decision do we do bits and pieces or do we start again and start from scratch."
The new design would draw on Te Ao Māori values, and directly address victims' safety needs in the court building.
"For victims, being forced to share the same space with people who have hurt them can be incredibly confrontational... We must make sure that the processes of justice do not compound that hurt."
Requests for a more "family-friendly" design were also being acknowledged.
"This is an investment New Zealand must make to meet our commitment to put victims at the heart of the justice system."
The new court will provide both victims and offenders and other users with access to wrap-around services.
"This is a major milestone in ensuring less offending, less reoffending, and fewer victims of crime who are better supported,"Little said. "If you're a victim you've got needs... You come to the courthouse and you know those services are there. Likewise for offenders."
The announcement follows the release of reports from the Chief Victims Advisor, and from the Safe and Effective Justice Advisory Group – both of which called for a redesign of our courthouses.
Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said the announcement was "welcome news".
"Now we look forward to the Government also confirming early next year that they are restarting even more crucial infrastructure for the region, the half-billion-dollar four-lane Tauranga Northern Link from Te Puna to Omokoroa."
The new facility was expected to be ready by 2025.