Frequently asked questions

If the information you're looking for isn't on this page, or if you have any other questions, please contact the Office of the Chief Coroner by emailing coronial.response@justice.govt.nz or phoning (09)916 9151.

On this page, you'll find:

For language translations of these FAQs, please go to our Language and translation support page.

These FAQs have been updated 21 June 2021.

Panel of lawyers

Question

Answer

What is the panel of lawyers for?

The panel of lawyers can provide legal advice and support to families of the Shaheed during the early stages of the Chief Coroner’s investigation. 

How is the panel of lawyers funded?

The panel is funded directly by the Ministry of Justice. It is separate from legal aid, which is provided under the Legal Services Act 2011. Legal aid funding is only available if the Chief Coroner decides to hold an inquest.

Can victims of the masjid attacks apply for legal aid now?

Legal aid is not available at this stage of the coronial process. This is because legal aid funding is only available if the Chief Coroner decides to hold an inquest.

If the Chief Coroner decides to hold an inquest, families and other interested parties will be formally notified, after which they can apply for legal aid if they want to. 

Who can access the panel of lawyers?

You can access the panel lawyers if you are a family member of the Shaheed.

Can I access the lawyers on the panel if I was Bullet-Injured or present during the attacks, but am not a family member of the Shaheed?

At this stage, the panel lawyers have been prioritised for the families of the Shaheed.

We recognise that other victims may want access to one of the panel lawyers. If you are not a family member of the Shaheed and would like access to this support, please get in touch with the Office of the Chief Coroner by emailing coronial.response@justice.govt.nz  or calling (09) 916 9151.

Can organisations access the panel lawyers?

No, organisations won’t have access to the panel lawyers – they’ll need to arrange and fund their own lawyers.

What criteria did the Ministry of Justice use to select Hanne, Joshua, and Anne (panel lawyers)?

Hanne Janes, Joshua Shaw and Anne Toohey have been chosen because of their experience working with the Coroners Court. They have the right expertise and knowledge to support you through the coronial process.

Do I have to use one of the lawyers from the panel?

No, you don’t have to use one of the lawyers from this panel.

The panel of lawyers is fully funded by the Ministry of Justice, which means the lawyers on the panel are free of charge for you to use if you are eligible for the support. Please be aware that if you decide to use a lawyer who isn’t on this panel, the Ministry won’t be able to fund this for you.

Do I need to use a lawyer at all?

It is your choice whether to use a lawyer or receive legal advice and support at any stage in the process. You can also choose how much or what type of support you use. If you choose not to use a lawyer, you can engage in the process yourself or represent yourself in an inquest hearing if required.

Can different people from the same family access different lawyers from the panel?

We recommend that one person from each family is a main contact for the panel lawyer. You may already have a family representative who can do this for you.

We understand there might be situations where there is more than one family representative and in cases where their interests are not aligned, they may require different arrangements. We can work with the families of the Shaheed in these situations to help meet their needs. Please get in touch with the Office of the Chief Coroner by emailing coronial.response@justice.govt.nz  or calling (09) 916 9151.

We do ask that you tell your chosen panel lawyer if this is the situation in your family. It is helpful for them to know if your family is being supported by more than one lawyer.

Can I change my lawyer later if I want to?

Yes, you can choose to change to a different lawyer from the panel. We do ask that you tell your panel lawyer about your decision to change so they can offer their services to another family of the Shaheed who may need them.

Does my lawyer have to be in the same town/city as me? What if they aren’t?

No, your lawyer doesn’t have to be in the same town/city as you.  The Ministry of Justice will pay for your lawyer to travel to meet you in person if they are a lawyer on the Ministry-funded panel.

You might not always need to meet your lawyer in person. A lot of the time you may only need to use the phone, video calls or emails when talking to your lawyer. If your lawyer does need to travel to meet you face to face, you don’t need to organise this – your lawyer will make the arrangements.  

Do I need to pay if I need an interpreter when I meet with my panel lawyer?

No, you won’t have to pay if you need an interpreter to help you when you meet with your panel lawyer. Please let your lawyer know you need language support before you meet them so this can be arranged for you.

Is there a limit to the number of families of the Shaheed that any one panel lawyer can support?

No, there’s no limit to the number of families of the Shaheed that each panel lawyer is allowed to support. However, lawyers may make this decision on their own depending on their workload.

If you’re worried about how much time a panel lawyer will have available to you, you might like to contact them to talk about it before you make your choice.

We recommend you always contact your panel lawyer as soon as you can. Letting them know you’d like to talk helps them to plan so they have plenty of time available to support you.

Is there a limit to how much time I can spend with my panel lawyer?

No, there’s no limit to the amount of time you can spend with your panel lawyer. However, if you think you may need a lot of time with your lawyer, we recommend that you contact them as soon as you can. Letting them know what you’d like to talk about helps them to plan and make plenty of time available to support you.

Can my panel lawyer help me at any stage in the process?

Your panel lawyer is available to you while the Chief Coroner decides on the next steps in the coronial process. There’s no timeframe for when this decision will be made.

If the Chief Coroner decides to hold an inquest, you'll be given information about how to access legal support through the inquest stage of the coronial process.

What legal support can the panel lawyer give me? 

There are no restrictions on the type of legal services the panel lawyers can provide as long as it's within the scope of the coronial process.

The panel lawyer can:

  • give you information and advice, including legal advice, about the current stages of the coronial process

  • write on your behalf to the Chief Coroner

  • get relevant case information from the Coroner or other agency on your behalf

  • act as your lawyer or represent you if needed

  • ensure issues you're concerned about are provided to the Chief Coroner for consideration (if these are within the Chief Coroner's jurisdiction).

Is there anything the panel lawyer can’t help me with? 

The panel lawyer can’t give you support with anything that’s not relevant to the coronial process. For example, they can’t give you advice on:

  • immigration issues

  • any issues regarding the sentencing of the offender.

Who can I contact to get more information about this process?

If you’d like more information about how the panel will work before you decide on a lawyer, please email the Office of the Chief Coroner at coronial.response@justice.govt.nz or call (09) 916 9151.

If you’ve already chosen a lawyer from the panel and you have a question about working with them, you can contact the lawyer directly. You'll find their contact details on our website at People supporting the coronial process.

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Interested parties

Question

Answer

What is an interested party?

Under the Coroners Act 2006, 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.

If I become an interested party to the 2019 Christchurch Masjid attacks coronial investigation, what will happen?

If you become an interested party to the investigation, you can request further details about the attacks and set out issues or concerns that you consider haven’t been resolved by the prosecution process or the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

Any request for information and the issues and concerns need to fall within the coronial jurisdiction. To find out more about the Coroners Court, you can visit the Coronial Services website pages at https://coronialservices.justice.govt.nz/about/(external link)

Also, the Chief Coroner will formally notify all interested parties of any significant matters during her investigation, such as if an inquiry is opened or completed and the outcome of any inquiry.

Later in the process, if an inquest hearing is to be held, interested parties will be notified of the date, time and location. Interested parties may have the chance to be involved in any inquest.

Can I find out what’s happening in the coronial investigation even if I’m not registered as an interested party? 

Yes. You can find out what’s happening by visiting the Masjid attacks website pages at www.coronialservices.justice.govt.nz/masjid-attacks-coronial-process(external link) . The pages will be regularly updated during the process.

If I’m a family member of the Shaheed and the Chief Coroner is already in contact with me, do I need to register to become an interested party?

No, you don’t need to register.

What happens if I’m a member of a Shaheed family and I’m also a bullet-injured victim? Should I register as an interested party?

No. If the Chief Coroner is already in contact with you, you don’t need to register as an interested party.

How do I become an interested party to the Masjid attacks coronial investigation?

This depends on your circumstances:

  • If you’re a family member of the Shaheed and the Chief Coroner is already in contact with you, you don’t need to register as an interested party.
  • If you’re a victim, or parents of a victim, of gunshot wounds from the attack, you can register as an interested party by emailing the Office of the Chief Coroner at coronial.response@justice.govt.nz or phoning (09) 916 9151.

For other individuals and for organisations to become an interested party, you need to apply. The Chief Coroner will consider your application and let you know the outcome.

Please check the Masjid attacks website pages at www.coronialservices.justice.govt.nz/masjid-attacks-coronial-process(external link) for how to apply.

There’s a big group of us who want to become interested parties. If we want to, can we apply as a group?

Yes, you can. You just need to agree among yourselves on a representative for the group. Then that person can apply to become an interested party on your group’s behalf. When your representative applies, they should explain:

  • that they represent the group
  • the group’s interest in the coronial investigation.

The Chief Coroner will consider the representative’s application and let them know the outcome. Please check the Masjid attacks website pages at www.coronialservices.justice.govt.nz/masjid-attacks-coronial-process(external link) for how to apply.

What about if a group is made up of bullet-injured people? Can we register as a group?

Yes, you can. Each person just needs to let the Office of the Chief Coroner know who their representative is. You can email coronial.response@justice.govt.nz or phone (09) 916 9151.

Then the representative can become the person to receive interested party correspondence from the Chief Coroner on behalf of all bullet-injured people who have nominated them.

Can I have legal support from a panel lawyer if I register as an interested party?

At this stage, the services of the lawyers being funded by the Ministry of Justice have been prioritised for the families of the Shaheed.

If you received gunshot wounds in the attacks and would like access to this legal support, please contact the Office of the Chief Coroner by emailing coronial.response@justice.govt.nz or calling (09) 916 9151. Requests will be considered on a case by case basis.

Can I apply to be an interested party at any stage of the process?

If you want to apply to be an interested party, we recommend you do so now.

If your application is successful, this will give you time to request information from the Chief Coroner and tell her about issues or concerns that you consider haven’t been resolved by the prosecution process or the Royal Commission of Inquiry report. This process is already under way for the families of the Shaheed.

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