Courts have a wide variety of roles including enforcing the criminal law, resolving civil disputes, upholding the rights of individuals, ensuring that government agencies stay within the law, and explaining the law.
In resolving disputes courts consider the evidence on all sides of the dispute, interpret the law as it applies to that evidence and then determine a judgment.
Courts are independent and impartial and the decisions of individual judges sitting in courts are subject only to law.
The Judiciary is made up of judges and judicial officers who apply the law by hearing and deciding cases in an impartial and fair manner, in accordance with established legal principles.
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is New Zealand's final court of appeal with the role of maintaining overall coherence in the legal system.
Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal is New Zealand's intermediate appellate court, dealing with civil and criminal appeals from proceedings heard in the High Court, and indictable criminal proceedings in District Courts.
The High Court has jurisdiction over both criminal and civil matters, and deals with cases at first instance or on appeal from other courts and certain tribunals.
The 63 District Courts around New Zealand deal with both criminal and civil matters.
The Family Court is a division of the District Court and aims to help families sort out their issues while ensuring the interests of children are represented.
The Youth Court is a division of the District Court dealing with young people 14, 15 and 16 years old.
Most of the work of the Environment Court involves issues arising under the Resource Management Act, largely dealing with appeals about regional and district statements and plans, and appeals relating to applications for resource consent.
The Employment Court hears cases relating to employment disputes, particularly challenges to determinations of the Employment Relations Authority.
Coroners investigate the circumstances and cause of death, and make recommendations for the improvement of public safety and to prevent deaths in similar circumstances.
Māori Land Court
The Māori Land Court maintains records of title and ownership information of Māori land and has jurisdiction to hear matters relating to Māori land