Glossary

If the information you're looking for isn't on this page, or if you have any other questions, please contact Coronial Services by emailing coronial.response@justice.govt.nz or phoning 0800 88 88 20.

This page lists key terms used during the masjid attacks coronial process.

For more general information about what coroners do and what happens when a death is referred to a coroner, please see the Ministry of Justice’s coronial services webpages. The Ministry’s guide to coronial services [PDF, 796 KB] also contains an overview of the coronial process and other information that will help you to understand the Coroner’s inquiry into the masjid attacks.

For language translations of the Glossary, please go to our language and translation support page.

 Term

Meaning

General coronial terms

Coronial process

The coronial process starts when the coroner accepts the referral of an unexpected, violent or suspicious death from the police. The process ends with the coroner issuing:

  • a certificate that states the cause of death to the family of the person who died, or
  • their finding about the cause and circumstances of the death after undertaking further investigation.

Coronial investigation

The process of gathering information and answering questions that relate to a death that’s been referred to the coroner. The investigation helps the coroner to decide, for example, whether to open a coronial inquiry or hold an inquest.

Coronial inquiry

A coroner holds an inquiry to find out more about who the person was, and where, when and how they died. An inquiry also helps the coroner to make recommendations or comments that might prevent a similar death happening in the future. Not all deaths referred to the coroner involve an inquiry or result in recommendations being made.

Coronial inquest

If the coroner needs to hear from witnesses in person, they’ll hold a hearing in court, which is called an inquest. Inquests aren’t always held in courtrooms, however – they may be held somewhere else that’s suitable.

Witnesses can give evidence and may be cross-examined. Families of the person who has died, interested parties, and sometimes members of the public, may attend an inquest.

Hearing on the papers

At a hearing ‘on the papers’, the coroner reads all the evidence in their office (their chambers). Then they release their finding. Family members and witnesses don’t attend a hearing on the papers.

Finding

A written report about the facts of a death that also includes the coroner’s reasoning. Recommendations or comments that might prevent a similar death happening in the future may be included, but not always.

A finding is usually the last step in the coronial process.

Coroner

A qualified lawyer appointed as a judicial officer to investigate the cause and circumstances of unexpected, violent or suspicious deaths.

Chief Coroner

The Chief Coroner is the head of the Coroners Court.

Coroners Court

The Coroners Court is made up of the Chief Coroner and a mix of fulltime coroners and part-time relief coroners, with support from the Coronial Services Unit at the Ministry of Justice.

Coronial jurisdiction

The extent or limit of the power or authority of the Coroners Court or the coroner.

Submission

An argument that’s presented to the coroner. It can be written or spoken. In this case, submissions include the issues and concerns submitted to the coroner by families of the people who have died, and by interested parties.

Evidence

Information gathered to support a case. Evidence can include:

  • written or spoken statements from witnesses
  • documents, photographs, maps and recordings.

Interested parties

The immediate family of someone who has died has the right to be kept informed and be involved in certain decisions relating to a coronial investigation.
Interested parties can be other people or organisations that the coroner considers also has a particular interest in the death. Their interest needs to be more than, or different to, a member of the general public.

Significant matters

Important events during the coronial process that interested parties need to be officially informed of. Examples of significant matters can include:

  • the opening and closing of an inquiry
  • where and when an inquest is held.

Legal Aid

Legal aid is government funding to pay for legal representation, usually for people who can't afford a lawyer.

Terms specific to the masjid attacks coronial investigation

Families of the Shaheed (or Shuhada)

Families of the martyrs who died in the Christchurch masjid terror attacks.

Funded lawyers

Lawyers funded by the Ministry of Justice to provide free legal advice, support and representation in the early stages of the coronial process to families of the people who died in the masjid attacks.

Masjid

The Arabic term for mosque.
During this investigation, it refers to the two mosques that were attacked – Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch.

Royal Commission of Inquiry

The Royal Commission that was set up to investigate whether government agencies had done all they could to protect the people of Aotearoa New Zealand from terrorist attacks and whether more can be done in the future to prevent another attack.