New Zealand

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Snap Shot as of 1-1-2017

  • Treatment Courts: 2
  • Year Started: 2012
  • Graduates: 106

AODT Courts Summary

Currently, there are two Alcohol or Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Courts, Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua (The House that Lifts the Spirit), in New Zealand.  One is located at Waitakere and the other is at the Auckland District Court. Between them, they handle up to 50 offenders a year. Set up in 2012 as part of a five-year pilot, the AODT Courts give defendants with substance dependency issues an opportunity to deal with those issues before they’re sentenced. They still get sentenced for their crimes, but the effort they put in at the AODT Court can be taken into account.

Participants in the court must meet criteria that they are ‘high needs’ (in terms of their addiction issues) and ‘high risk’ (of non-compliance). ‘The people who qualify for the AODT Court have basically already had everything that the system has to offer, and it hasn’t worked,  They are in a revolving door within the criminal justice system.

They have an addiction, and research makes it clear that punishment does not change that. They require intensive management, and the court is an opportunity to provide that – and much better outcomes are achieved especially by having all of the agencies working together.

Before the court sitting, there’s a meeting which includes the judge, defence, police prosecutors and expert advisors. Also present is the Pou Oranga – a role established to ensure that Māori participants, and the court itself, is assisted by a team member with expertise in tikanga and te reo Māori, as well as a lived experience of recovery and qualifications in the addiction field. Collectively, the team reviews each case and strategises, sharing information and referring to relevant research.

Solution-Focused/Specialist Courts and Specialist Court Programs in New Zealand

Listed By Court Specialty

By Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue, The New Zealand Law Society, March 31, 2017

Te Kooti Rangatahi (Youth) – Rangatahi Courts  Started in 2008, the 14 Rangatahi and two Pasifika courts involving eight judges are mainly marae-based sentencing hearings within the Youth Court that use culturally adapted processes to reconnect young offenders with their cultural identity. Kaumatua (elders) and kuia (female elders) are heavily involved in holding young people to account.

Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court/Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua (The House that Lifts the Spirits) A pre-sentence initiative piloted in Waitakere and Auckland, under a five-year Government-funded, fully evaluated, pilot. Designed to achieve better outcomes for serious offenders whose offending is driven by an unresolved dependency but who also have a high risk of non-compliance. The stated aims of the pilot are to reduce reoffending and the use of imprisonment, reduce consumption and dependency, positively impact on health and wellbeing, and be cost effective.

Family Violence Court Eight District Courts schedule block sittings of family violence cases so appropriate social services, support and programs are concentrated to be on hand to connect with families, under court guidance.

Special Circumstances Court  Te Kooti o Timatanga Hou, Court of New Beginnings in Auckland – Began in 2010 for homeless people who have some degree of impaired decision-making capacity. Takes a non-adversarial, coordinated, inter-agency approach to addressing the legal, social and health-related issues that have led to offending and homelessness. The Special Circumstances Court in Wellington began in 2012 using the same model. (Click HERE to watch a video and learn more about the court.)

Matariki Court  A process used since 2010 at Kaikohe District Court for adult offenders using section 27 of the Sentencing Act to allow the court to hear about an offender’s personal circumstances and cultural background, and also how whanau (family) may assist in the prevention of further offending.

Sexual Violence Court  An initiative to pilot new court processes in all serious cases of sexual violence proceeding to jury trial in the Auckland and Whangarei District Courts from December 2016. The pilot aims to take simple, practical steps that help cohesive and consistent application of existing law. To reduce delays and improve the court experience for participants, it will apply pro-active, best-practice trial management and also improve judicial education. Central to the initiative is an education program on sexual violence for trial judges, and Best Practice Guidelines developed by the pilot’s governance board to drive tighter pre-trial case management.

New Zealand News

Ministry of Justice

Justice: our people, our communities

New Zealand Ministry of Justice releases publication on latest initiatives for justice which includes discussion of the two Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts, Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua (The House that Heals the Spirit), and their success.

Read more HERE


Auckland District Law Society

Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court marks two years of a new approach

Their Honours Judges Lisa Tremewan and Ema Aitken reflect on achievements to date and what is ahead for the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts, Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua (The House that Heals the Spirit).

Read more HERE


'Scoop' Parliament - Independent News

NZ’s first Alcohol and Drug Court launched

Justice Minister Judith Collins today officially launched New Zealand’s first Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Court, Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua (The House that Heals the Spirit), in Auckland.

Read more HERE


Useful Resources

Images from New Zealand AODT Court