Information for non-accredited and international media

Image of media cameras


Leave of the court required
Special restrictions in certain proceedings
How to apply for permission to cover court
Media not present in court


Leave of the court required

Non-accredited journalists and overseas media need the judge’s permission to cover proceedings of the District Court. This requirement includes freelance and contract journalists and those representing news outlets that are not subject to a code of ethics and the complaints procedure of New Zealand’s media standards regulators, the Broadcasting Standards Authority or the Press Council (now Media Council), within the terms of the In-Court Media Coverage Guidelines 2016 (the Guidelines).

Accredited media are afforded certain privileges: they are the only people permitted to sit at the press bench, to take notes in court and to transmit reports from within court. These media have standing in court, and under the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 they may be heard on suppression matters. They have a right to remain in court even when a court is closed to the public, except in exceptional circumstances. They are expected to have a good working knowledge of court procedures and relevant law, and their reports must provide a fair and accurate report of the proceedings.

Image of press bench with press bench sign and person typing. On a case by case basis, with the permission of the judge (using the application forms provided on this website) media may also capture sound and images of proceedings or parts of proceedings.

A judge may grant permission for non-accredited and overseas media to report from the District Court and receive the same privileged access. This leave is likely to be conditional on these media agreeing that they and their news outlets — whether online, print or broadcast — will comply with New Zealand law. These include the laws of contempt and sub judice, any orders of the presiding judge, any statutory prohibitions, The Guidelines provisions and any other rules or orders pertaining to the orderly administration of justice.

A judge may at any time revoke permission to cover proceedings.

Special restrictions in certain proceedings

Within the District Court, the Family Court and Youth Court have specific reporting restrictions designed to protect children and vulnerable participants. Extra care is required in covering these proceedings. More information about covering Family Court is found in the Media Guide for Reporting Family Court1:

Image of a variety of newspapers.

More information about covering Youth Court is found in the Media Reporting Protocol for that court:

Extra reporting restrictions also apply to certain proceedings in the adult criminal jurisdiction of the District Court. These include certain matters in bail application hearings that might affect fair trail rights, and restrictions relating to the identification of complainants and witnesses in sexual violence and family violence cases. Details of the prohibitions are outlined in the document Statutory Prohibitions on Publications for Media as at August 2020:

How to apply for permission to cover court

Via the court registrar, non-accredited journalists need to make themselves known to the court where a hearing is scheduled, and as early as possible before a hearing. They must provide suitable identification such as a business card or letter from the journalists’ organisation along with their personal identification (e.g. a driving licence or passport). Contact details and after-hours contacts may also be required by the registrar. Contract or freelance journalists will need a written reference from the editor of the news outlet they are representing. If you are applying in writing or by email, use the Court Locator on the Ministry of Justice website.
Those media wishing to also film, photograph, or sound-record proceedings as part of their coverage must apply additionally to do so, using the following the process:

Please note the addendum to The Guidelines around advance notice periods. These differ in the District Court, particularly in relation to first appearances, because all defendants make their first appearance in the District Court, irrespective of the seriousness of the charges.

Judicial decisions around leave to cover court, or to film, take photographs or sound-record in court may be notified either in advance by the registrar or by the judge directly once court sits. Where a press bench is fully occupied, media cannot take notes or transmit material from the public galleries without the judge’s permission. The rules around electronic communication from inside court, including on mobile phones, can also be found in The Guidelines.

Media not present in court

Media seeking to cover a hearing remotely or retrospectively may apply to the court registrar where the case was heard for permission to see the court file, including the charges and any decision of the judge such as those relating to suppressed material, bail, verdict, sentencing or court transcripts. Follow the process for accessing court documents at:

Media wanting to reproduce images or sound recorded by approved media applicants but who were not party to those original applications are considered third parties and require the court’s leave to use the images or sound. This will require fresh application to the court from either the original applicant on behalf of the third party, or the third party with written endorsement from the original applicant.


1  The guide does not cover every situation and does not constitute legal advice. News media are advised to seek independent legal advice whenever in doubt.