A community initative of the Rotorua Court has been labelled "fantastic" by Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams.

Accompanied by Rotorua MP Todd McClay, Ms Adams was introduced to court staff and shown through the court rooms, cells and judges' chambers today.

During the visit Ms Adams also learnt about the court's recent youth initative Beyond the Bars.

This is a recent programme created by court services manager Amarnda Nicholson who wanted youth to have a more realistic experience of the courts.


Students go through a simulated prison arrival and are then taken through a mock senario of the courts including time in the cells and the court room.

Ms Adams said it was a "fantastic programme".

"The ability to bring people in and let them understand more about the criminal justice system when they're not in it can only be a good thing, whether it might inspire them to careers in the system as lawyers, court staff or in Corrections, or whether it's just about showing them if you do something wrong this stuff can happen and it has real consequences and can affect you for the rest of your life."

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When asked by the Rotorua Daily Post if Beyond the Bars was an initative that could be set up in other New Zealand courts Ms Adams said she was always open to trying things differently.

"As the programme builds up steam here, we'll see the impact from it and see other courts wanting to take it on. I have no doubt we will see it expand across New Zealand."

She also heard about the challenges the Rotorua court faced, including the tricky job of segregating those in cells waiting to be sentenced.

Security spoke to the minister about relying on a combination of local knowledge and communication between police and the Department of Corrections in order to prevent harm.

Ms Adams said she enjoyed talking with the staff and district court judges Chris McGuire, Phillip Cooper and Maree MacKenzie.

"We have the most passionate and incredibly effective court staff up and down New Zealand ... I like hearing from people around New Zealand, in places like Rotorua, how they find what works well, what doesn't and how we can make it better. It's a chance for me to thank them but also I get a lot of good information and I find it incredible helpful."

Mr McClay said the minister's visit was important.

"It's a busy courtroom with a wide geographical area. I am particuarly impressed by Beyond the Bars. I have been invited to take part, which I am keen to do."