Therapeutic courts

UPDATE 25 September: Courts and tribunals are operating differently at the moment. Please do not come to the courthouse if you are feeling unwell. Contact 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) if you cannot enter the courthouse or are not sure whether to attend.

Find contact details for a court or tribunal

Attending a court or tribunal

Auckland at Level 2

Please attend on your scheduled date unless a Judge or Registrar has advised otherwise.

Entry into courthouses is limited to defendants, parties, witnesses, complainants, victims, and other stakeholders. Members of the public (including whānau/support person for a defendant) whose presence is not required at court may only attend if granted permission from the presiding Judge.

Public counters are generally open.

Protocols for how courts and tribunals will operate during COVID-19 Alert Level 2 have been released on the Courts of NZ website(external link)

Rest of New Zealand at Level 1

Please attend on your scheduled date unless a Judge or Registrar has advised otherwise.

Members of the public can attend without prior permission from the presiding Judge.

Public counters are generally open.

Protocols for how courts and tribunals will operate during COVID-19 Alert Level 1 have been released on the Courts of NZ website(external link)

Health and safety measures

We are following Ministry of Health guidelines to protect the health and safety of all court participants and staff.

Factsheet: Health and Safety measures during COVID-19 Alert Level 2 [PDF, 89 KB]

Factsheet: Health and Safety measures during COVID-19 Alert Level 1 [PDF, 85 KB]

Juror safety

Arrangements are in place to keep jurors safe in court buildings throughout New Zealand.

Read the Chief Justice's media statement 18 September 2020 re jury trial arrangements [PDF, 412KB](external link)

Use of face masks in court buildings

Face masks should be worn while in public areas of Auckland court buildings until further notice. This applies to all court participants and staff to maintain health and safety standards. It is an additional precaution for everyone in the court building. Disposable masks are freely available from security at court entrances.

For the rest of New Zealand, face mask use is encouraged in court buildings.

Judicial protocols have been updated to reflect this on the Courts of New Zealand website(external link).

Read the Chief Justice's media statement 28 August 2020 regarding masks in court(external link)


There are 3 therapeutic courts in New Zealand: 2 in Auckland and 1 in Wellington within the criminal District Court system.  

Therapeutic courts aim to reduce reoffending, alcohol, drug use, and addiction. They try to help a person’s health and well-being so they can move on with their lives. If someone appears before a therapeutic court, they’re sentenced in the same way and the same laws apply as in other New Zealand courts.

You can’t choose to appear before a therapeutic court. You or your lawyer can ask a judge to go through the court but a judge may say you can’t. Therapeutic courts are for people who have committed less serious offending and who have admitted their guilt.  This court does not hear serious offences like sexual offences.

Participating in these courts takes commitment on your part. Once you’ve undergone treatment, you’ll still be sentenced for your crime.

Alcohol & Other Drug Treatment Courts

The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Courts are at Waitakere District Court and Auckland District Court. They’re designed to supervise offenders whose offending is driven by their alcohol and other drug dependency. 

Cabinet established the AODT Courts in 2012 as a 5-year pilot program, with the Ministry of Justice commissioning a formative and process evaluation. In 2016, Cabinet Paper agreed to extend the pilot until 2020:

Formative Evaluation for the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court Pilot 2014 [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Process Evaluation for the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court 2015 [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Final Process Evaluation for the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court 2016 [PDF, 2.3 MB]

Report-back on the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court Pilot and other AOD related Initiatives Paper [PDF, 365 KB]

Information for Victims for Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts [PDF, 141 KB]

In 2019, Cabinet agreed to make the AODT Courts in Auckland and Waitakere permanent, and fund a new AODTC Court in Hamilton, following a 2018-2019 evaluation by the Ministry of Justice:

Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court Outcomes Evaluation 2018-19: Summary Evaluation Report [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court Quantitative Outcomes Evaluation 2018-19 [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Final Report: Qualitative Components of the Outcomes Evaluation of the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court Pilot Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua [PDF, 2.1 MB]

Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cabinet Paper: Future of the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court, 21 August 2019 [PDF, 2 MB]

New Beginnings & Special Circumstances court

The New Beginnings Court Te Kooti o Timatanga Hou is aimed at homeless people in Auckland. The Special Circumstances Court is aimed at homeless people in Wellington.

If you get accepted into one of these courts, you can get help to address issues in your life that contribute to your offending.

This is a voluntary court. People going through it can choose to withdraw and be returned to the normal court system at any time.

If you want to find out more about these courts, talk to your lawyer.

This page was last updated: