Business as usual will resume at the Levin District Court today after it was closed for almost a year for seismic strengthening work to be completed.
The opening ceremony was preceded by a dawn blessing by representatives of the mana whenua Muaūpoko and Ngāti Raukawa. Justice Minister, Andrew Little; Chief District Court Judge Taumaunu and the Secretary for Justice Andrew Kibblewhite all spoke at the re-opening ceremony.
In November last year, the decision was made to shut down the Court to ensure repairs could be made so it would withstand earthquake damage.
Over two million dollars was spent fixing the connections between the floor slabs and increasing the strength of the steel beams. Security features have been upgraded throughout the building, and the customer service counter refurbished to comply with current security standards.
Improvements were also made to the electrical wiring, the roof upgraded and audio-visual capabilities installed into the two courtrooms. The AVL is particularly necessary and timely considering COVID-19.
The work was challenging for the contractor Maycroft Construction as they had to re-strategize their building schedule multiple times due to lockdown and the new COVID-19 guidelines for workplaces.
Throughout the closure, the Ministry set up a temporary service centre at the Bateman Chambers in Levin where participants could access limited justice services including counter services, Police Registrar’s List, and Financial Assessment Hearings.
The Ministry’s Chief Executive Andrew Kibblewhite says: “I’d like to thank the Levin staff, the judiciary, the local legal profession, and all court participants for the patience and understanding over the last 10 months.
“Having court participants and staff traveling to Palmerston North was a big ask but demonstrates everyone’s willingness to continue to provide timely justice. This has been greatly appreciated and helped ensure access to justice for people in the Horowhenua.”