Guidance for news media covering the District Court

News media are usually free to cover the proceedings of the District Court. Before attending court, however, journalists need to be familiar with the rules and procedures. 

On this page:

Identification requirements

To meet the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) definition of a "member of the media", your media organisation must be subject to a code of ethics and the complaints procedure of the Broadcasting Standards Authority or the NZ Media Council (CPA 2011, s 198).

Media representatives must establish their identity with the court registrar before court begins. Please supply:

  • an identification card or letter from your organisation, and
  • a form of personal identification, such as a driver's licence or passport.

The court registrar may also ask for your contact details.

General guidance for reporting at the District Court

The following documents and web pages provide guidance for news media covering the District Court, including the Family Court and Youth Court:

COVID-19 guidance for media

This Protocol, effective 26 April 2022, contains the latest COVID-19-specific guidance for the media:

District Court COVID-19 Protection Framework Green, Orange Red Protocol

Restrictions on reporting at the District Court

There are some restrictions on reporting in the Family Court and Youth Court.  Restrictions also apply to some proceedings in the adult criminal court, such as certain matters in bail application hearings and during sentencing indications. These are known as “statutory prohibitions”.

You can find general information on statutory prohibitions in these documents:

See below for guidance specific to the Family Court and Youth Court.

Family Court restrictions

Accredited journalists can usually attend the Family Court. However, because this Court deals with sensitive matters and vulnerable participants, reporting restrictions apply. You can find more information in this guide:

A guide for media reporting in the Family Court, Oct 2017

Note: This guide doesn't cover every situation, and doesn't constitute legal advice. News media are advised to seek independent legal advice whenever in doubt.

Youth Court restrictions

Media can attend Youth Court proceedings. However, they are not allowed to report on these unless they have permission from the Judge who heard the proceedings. You can find more information in this Protocol:

Media and Reporting Protocol in the Youth Court, 21 August 2019

Permission required before reporting Youth Court decisions from this website

News media must get permission before they publish (or report from) any Youth Court decisions published on this website. This is a requirement under section 438 (1) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.

To request this permission, contact either:

  • the presiding judge, via the registrar at the relevant court, or
  • the Strategic Communications Adviser to the Chief District Court Judge at ChiefJudges.Chambers@courts.govt.nz.