Media information

Media should review the Guide for media attending and reporting the courts remotely during COVID-19 [PDF, 481 KB] released recently by Courts of New Zealand.

Media in courts

The media play an important part in New Zealand’s courts by reporting on their work and informing the public. 

The Criminal Procedure Act, which came into force on 1 July 2013, was the biggest overhaul of criminal procedure in 50 years.  It is designed to simplify and streamline court processes, reduce delay and speed up the time it takes to resolve cases.   

The Act also recognises the role of the media in New Zealand’s courts, defines who the media are and allows reporters to be heard on name suppression matters.

A fact sheet explains the major changes and its impact on the media.

Criminal case process (at a glance)

To find out more about New Zealand court system, visit Courts of New Zealand.

 Courts of New Zealand website(external link)

You can view the media guide online here - reporting the courts and tribunals. You can download the media guide as a PDF:

Media guide for reporting in the courts and tribunals [PDF, 611 KB]

Information about covering the Family Court is available in the Media Guide and a guide issued by the Principal Family Court Judge [PDF, 253 KB].

Information about covering the Youth Court is available in the Media Guide and a guide issued by the Principal Youth Court Judge. [PDF, 150 KB]

Reporting restrictions

In the interests of justice and to protect the integrity of the trial process, there may be times during a case when restrictions will apply to the information that can be made public.

Information may be suppressed by law (known as “statutory prohibitions”), or there may be an existing suppression order of the court or a lower court, or an order made in the course of delivering judgment.

It is the responsibility of anyone publishing information about a trial to be informed of and observe these prohibitions and suppression orders.  If unsure, check with the appropriate court registry(external link).

The courts publish a guide on those statutory provisions that prohibit the publication of certain information. It is intended as a guide only as exceptions may apply.

Statutory prohibitions on publication for media [PDF, 211 KB]

In-court media coverage

If you want to film, record or take photographs in New Zealand courts, you need to seek the permission of the judge or judicial officer by filling out the appropriate application form and be sent to the appropriate District Court or High Court.

Application for in-court media coverage [PDF, 201 KB]

Coroners Court

The Coroners Court has its own application form:

Coroners Court media application form [PDF, 195 KB]

The form should be completed and sent to the appropriate Coronial Services Unit. (external link)

Waitangi Tribunal

The Waitangi Tribunal has its own application form:

Waitangi Tribunal media application form [PDF, 355 KB]

The form should be completed and sent to:


Press benches

The “press bench” is an historical term, but now encompasses all media.  Depending on the court and its size, it ranges from a single chair and table to a designated shared bench with several chairs.  

Where there is a large media contingent, court staff will continue to seat the media together in another part of the courtroom, and will advise the judge.

Press bench signs have been distributed to all District and High Courts to help designate a media-only space.

Press sheets

Press sheets are media copies of documents where charges against defendants are outlined.  Under the Ministry of Justice’s current processes, press sheets:

  • are not destroyed at the end of the day of first appearance
  • are distributed to the press bench or are made available to media on request
  • are stored for one month
  • are destroyed after one month from date of first appearance
  • are kept in a designated space known to both court staff and media.

A disclaimer has been provided to each court to be kept with the press sheets, explaining that:

  • press sheets are provided to media as a courtesy and are the property of the court
  • press sheets must not leave the courthouse
  • press sheets are available on the day of first appearance and are not reprinted if lost or damaged
  • charges may have been amended or withdrawn since the date of first appearance and are not updated on the press sheet, there is a risk that the information on the press sheet may not be accurate after first appearance
  • name and or detail suppression may have been granted, therefore you must check with court staff before publishing.

Getting information about cases

The courts are not subject to the Official Information Act.  Each court has its own search rules.

Court staff cannot give you information about a criminal case where a defendant has not yet appeared in court.  This is to allow the possibility of suppression being ordered by the judge at the first appearance or because automatic suppression may apply.  This includes confirming whether a particular person has charges pending.

If you do not attend a hearing in person and would like information about a case, you need to make a request for information in accordance with the relevant search rules.  Once the matter has been brought before the court, the only information court staff can give you without reference to the court rules is the details of the next appearance.   Simple requests can be made by calling the Contact Centre on 0800 268 787.   

If the Contact Centre is unable to answer your question, they will refer you to the appropriate court.

If you want to find out more about a specific case, you need to apply to search the court record. 

Fill out the application form and send it to the appropriate District Court or High Court.

Application for access to court documents form [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Fees are often charged for access to court documents

Media guide

To find out more about reporting New Zealand’s courts and tribunals see the media guide for reporting the courts and tribunals.

Media guide for reporting the courts and tribunals

Further Resources

Courts of New Zealand Resource sheets:

In-Court Media Guidelines 2016 and Schedules. [PDF, 406 KB]

In-Court Media Coverage in the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court. [PDF, 127 KB]

Access to Court Information in the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court. [PDF, 137 KB]

Cases in the High Court. [PDF, 121 KB]

New Zealand Court Process for Murder Charges. [PDF, 90 KB]

Suppression and Statutory Prohibition. [PDF, 108 KB]

This page was last updated: