High Court Judgments of Public Interest

This page provides access to judgments of the High Court in the last 90 days deemed to be of particular public interest.

More information about finding court judgments is available on the judgments section of this website.

It is the responsibility of users of the information contained in these decisions to ensure compliance with conditions or other legal obligations governing access, release, storage and re-publication. See also the guide on statutory provisions that prohibit publication of certain information in certain circumstances. If in doubt you should consult the court that issued the decision(s). Judicial Decisions are presented in PDF format to preserve the integrity of the documents.

Guide on statutory provisions prohibiting publication

R v Tarrant, CRI-2019-009-2468

The High Court has published:

  • general information about the sentencing process in New Zealand,
  • procedural information about the sentencing hearing starting 24 August,
  • information for media,
  • minutes of the sentencing judge in this matter, Mander J,
  • and more.

 

Case number
[2020] NZHC 2036
Date of Judgment
12 August 2020
Summary
The Commissioner of Police (Commissioner) seeks civil forfeiture orders against Mr Snowden under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 (CPRA) . Asset forfeiture orders are sought in respect of three items of property - a property in Karaka, an Aprilia motorcycle and $2,725 cash seized in April 2013. The Commissioner claims the property was wholly or in part acquired or derived from significant criminal activity (the possession and sale of drugs, and benefit fraud). Alternatively, a profit forfeiture order is sought on the basis Mr Snowden has unlawfully benefited from significant criminal activity. A limitation defence under the Limitation Act 1950 was raised in relation to assets forfeiture. HELD: The action for an assets forfeiture order based on tainting due to alleged benefit fraud in 2002 to 2006 is time barred, in accordance with the Limitation Act 1950. The action for an assets forfeiture order based on tainting due to the alleged drug offending is not time barred. The three items of property are tainted. The initial acquisition of the Karaka property was not tainted (it was not acquired as a result of significant criminal activity) but mortgage repayments were funded by significant criminal activity; the property is therefore tainted. The $2,725 cash likely derived from Mr Snowden's drug offending; it is tainted. So too is theAprilia; its forfeiture was not opposed.  Given the disparity between Mr Snowden's identifiable rental income and his access to large sums of cash, it is also likely he has unlawfully benefited from significant criminal activity in a substantial way. In accordance with s 53 of the CPRA, the value of that benefit is presumed to the value stated in the Commissioner's application ($754,533). That presumption has not been rebutted. As the Karaka property was not initially acquired as result of significant criminal activity, the capital gains and rental income benefit identified by the Commissioner was partly rebutted. But the Court of Appeal decision in Commissioner of Police v Cheah requires the respondent to prove a different value to rebut the presumption. Mr Snowden has not done so. Mr Snowden has interests in   or effective control over all three items of property. The Aprilia and the $2,725 cash are subject to assets forfeiture. In relation to the Karaka property there is relief from assets forfeiture. A profit forfeiture order is made; the maximum recoverable amount is $743,308 (the value of the benefit with the Aprilia and $2,725 cash deducted). The property to be disposed of the purpose of the profit forfeiture order is the Karaka property.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1999
Date of Judgment
10 August 2020
Summary
Successful appeal by Greenpeace New Zealand against Charities Board decision declining charitable status. Environmental protection is a charitable purpose and Greenpeace NZ's advocacy advances the public benefit by gathering necessary support. Greenpeace undertakes activities to advance education. The historic purposes of peace and nuclear disarmament are ancillary. Greenpeace does not have a disqualifying illegal purpose. Greenpeace NZ was entitled to be registered as a charity. A judicial review application was also brought, alleging apparent bias. It was finely balanced, so recusal would have been more proper. The appeal outcome meant no order was necessary.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1983
Date of Judgment
07 August 2020
Summary
Ms Ruddelle is sentenced to 11 and a half months' home detention for the manslaughter of her partner while defending her son, after hree and a half years of suffering intimate partner violence.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1896
Date of Judgment
31 July 2020
Summary
Judgment: Appeal against short prison sentence for breach of protection order.!Whether offender's need to engage in rehabilitative programme justified a sentence of intensive supervision as the least restrictive sentence?Whether that sentence could be imposed when no safe address available for offender?
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1893
Date of Judgment
31 July 2020
Summary
Sentencing of two defendants on manslaughter and aggravated robbery charges. The two defendants had broken into the victim's home in order to obtain money and methamphetamine. They intentionally assaulted the victim and left him "hog tied" on a bed with a pair of shorts likely tied over his nose and mouth. He died of asphyxiation. Due to the lack of witnesses the Court could not be sure which defendant had taken which steps. HELD: The Court applied the approach in Moses v R [2020] NZCA 296. The starting point for the manslaughter charges was set at 12 years' imprisonment for both defendants.  There was no uplift for the aggravated robbery convictions. Mr Fatu received a 12 per cent discount for personal circumstances including admissions of significant parts of the Crown case (ten years, six months). Mr Ekeroma received a discount of 16 per cent for personal circumstances including admissions of significant parts of the Crown case and pleading guilty at a relatively early stage, as well as nearly a year spent on EM bail with only two minor breaches (ten years). An MPI was imposed for both defendants of 40 per cent of their final sentence (four years and three months; four years).
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1882
Date of Judgment
31 July 2020
Summary
The plaintiffs' claims concern Ngati Te Ata ancestral land known as "Maioro". Maioro was acquired by the Crown by way of purchase, confiscation and public works takings. The land is now subject to an ironsands mining licence to New Zealand Steel Ltd. The ironsands supply the Glenbrook Steel Mill.
Ngati Te Ata's Treaty claims regarding Maioro were the subject of recommendations by the Waitangi Tribunal in 1985. Despite nearly 30 years of negotiation, the Crown and Ngati Te Ata are yet to reach a settlement. The plaintiffs commenced these proceedings in 2013. Key to the plaintiffs' claims are allegations that (1) the sale of Maioro to the Crown in 1864 is voidable for duress, undue influence and/or was an unconscionable bargain; (2) the confiscation was unlawful; (3) the Crown's acquisition of Maioro was in breach of a fiduciary duty owed by the Crown to Ngati Te Ata; (4) the public works takings were unlawful; and (5) the Treaty settlement negotiations gave rise to binding obligations on the Crown which it has failed to implement. The Crown (and NZ Steel) deny the claims, and raise affirmative defences of standing, limitation, laches and acquiescence.
HELD: The plaintiffs' claims are dismissed. The sale and/or the confiscation extinguished native customary title in Maioro. The public works takings were lawful exercises of the relevant statutory powers at the time. The Treaty settlement negotiations do not give rise to lthe binding obligations suggested. Ngati Te Ata has valid Treaty claims, but those claims are properly resolved through the Treaty settlement process.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1848
Date of Judgment
28 July 2020
Summary
Application for: declaration that Corrections is under an implied public law duty (under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990) to provide rehabilitative treatment to prisoners serving indeterminate sentences; declarations that Corrections has breached that duty; and associated remedies (including compensation). Application dismissed, as: declined to declare existence of implied public law duty; and Corrections had reasonably discharged its relevant obligations under the Corrections Act 2004 to provide access to rehabilitative treatment.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1839
Date of Judgment
28 July 2020
Summary
Accessory after the fact to murder sentencing, with three-year starting point, reduced to fourteen months' imprisonment for co-operation with police in disclosing the murder and burial site (including all other discounts, including for early guilty plea). No adjustment required for totality with present four-year unrelated drugs sentence.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1829
Date of Judgment
27 July 2020
Summary
Sentencing for Mr Matamata on convictions of human trafficking and slavery. The Court found there were several aggravating factors present; the extent of harm, abuse of trust, victims’ age and vulnerability, premeditation, number of convictions and victims, nature of the exploitation, degree of control, degrading treatment, financial benefit, duration, nature and degree of the deception and mechanism of entering New Zealand. There were no mitigating factors. The Court adopted a starting point of 12.5 years’ imprisonment and gave a six-month uplift for previous convictions and a two-year reduction for an instrument forfeiture order. The Court declined to impose a MPI.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1796
Date of Judgment
23 July 2020
Summary
It being a third strike offence, Mr Allen was sentenced under the Sentencing Act to the maximum period of 7 yrs imprisonment on a charge of wounding with reckless disregard . But his was a clear and convincing case for departure from the three strike regime and no order for parole was made. The key consideration was rehabilitation and reunification with direct whanau from whom he was taken at aged four when he was placed into state care from which time his life was characterised by abuse, violence, dislocation, complex deprivations and alcohol and drug addiction. Rehabilitative potential was real and the possibility of being granted parole would encourage and incentivise him to do that.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1669
Date of Judgment
10 July 2020
Summary
Partially successful application for judicial review of decision to approve the 2020-2021 tahr operational plan providing for DoC culling of tahr. Review brought on three grounds: decision was ultra vires the Wild Animal Control Act 1977, a breach of the applicant's legitimate expectation of consultation, and based on insufficient information.  First and third grounds failed.  Second ground made out: the  applicant had a legitimate expectation of meaningful consultation and there was partial inadequacy by the respondent in meeting that expectation. Decision not quashed, but referred back to DoC for reconsideration and further consultation. Limits imposed on 2020-2021 plan until further consultation occurs.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1662
Date of Judgment
10 July 2020
Summary
Preventive detention imposed for sexual offending. Much, but not all, of the offending is historical.Preventive detention was imposed on the defendant in 1997, but quashed by the Court of Appeal the same year. Unlikely that Court would have quashed the sentence had it known the true scale of the defendant's offending. And, defendant had committed sexual offending since then despite a final warning by the Court of Appeal.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1659
Date of Judgment
10 July 2020
Summary
The judgment creditors, Mainzeal Property & Construct ion Ltd (in liq), applied for Mr Richard Yan, the judgment debtor, to be adjudicated bankrupt. The bankruptcy application was based on the judgment of Cooke J in Mainzeal Property & Const ruction Ltd (in liq) v Yan [2019] NZHC 255 , where his Honour had found that Mr Yan had breached his duties under s 135 of the Companies Act 1993 and was ordered to contribute $36m in total to Mainzeal's assets to be distributed to creditors. The critical issue before the Court was whether it should order a halt of the bankruptcy proceedings under s 42 of the Insolvency Act 2006 pending a determination of an appeal to the Court of Appeal from the judgment of Cooke J. There was a second and important issue as to whether, if a halt should be granted, the Court should order additional security to be paid by Mr Yan beyond what he had already offered the judgment creditors. Held: The adjudication proceedings should be halted pursuant to s 42 and no order for security should be made, despite reservations the Court had whether Mr Yan really did have no ability to provide security beyond what he had offered. Further held: There was jurisdiction to order security in an appropriate case but given the imminent Court of Appeal hearing and that that Court was seized of the underlying substantive proceedings (including all procedural issues) it would be wrong at this late stage to impose as a condition of an order halting the proceedings, to require Mr Yan to pay additional security. Proceedings adjourned for six months for review.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1654
Date of Judgment
10 July 2020
Summary
Sentencing for Wong, on charges relating to significant commercial methamphetamine offending, where it was imported dissolved in gypsum umbrella stands. His co-offenders have been sentenced, but he disputed the facts of his role.Sentenced on the basis he had a lead role, resulting in a starting point of 31 years. Discounts given for old age and hardship caused by having no support in NZ. No discount for previous good character, and only 10 per cent for late guilty plea. End sentence 25 and a half years. MPI of eight and a half years set, due to the age he will be when that term ends.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1625
Date of Judgment
08 July 2020
Summary
Water permits for the take and use of water for a wool scour and freezing works had been transferred to water bottling companies.
Under the RMA, could the companies and the Regional Council process applications for a consent to a change of use of the water without also having to process the applications as for a new take of water?
Under the RMA, can an application be made for consent to a take of water or for the use of water, or must an application be made for a consent to the take and use of water?
Once the change of use had been approved, was it unlawful for the Council to issue a new amalgamated consent recording the approved changed use, and the extraction previously permitted with the earlier take and use consent?
Was the Council correct in treating the extraction authorised by the previous consents as part of the environment against which the effects of the proposed change of use had to be assessed?
Had the Council considered all matters as required in deciding whether neither public nor limited notification of the applications was required?
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 201 KB)
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1573
Date of Judgment
06 July 2020
Summary
Sentence of life imprisonment imposed with a minimum period of imprisonment of 14 years for murder.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1567
Date of Judgment
06 July 2020
Summary
Sentence of imprisonment of four years eight months' following convictions for manslaughter and driving with excess breath alcohol (which given the three strike regime will be served without parole). Three years' disqualification from driving following release from prison also imposed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 0
Date of Judgment
02 July 2020
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1503
Date of Judgment
30 June 2020
Summary
Rangitira Development Limited's application for judicial review dismissed. As to the alleged bias of the Minister of Conservation on the grounds of her strong voice against coal mining generally and this mining operation specifically the evidence showed the Minister approached the application with an open mind. For the future, in those unusual cases where there has been a close and adversarial position in relation to the matter now before the minister for decision, the value of maintaining public confidence in the integrity of executive government decision-making might be maintained by having another minister make the decision.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1490
Date of Judgment
30 June 2020
Summary
MT was found unfit to stand trial on charges of kidnapping and murder. This judgment decides her disposition under the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003. Reasons are given for a finding under s 10 of the Act as to her causing the acts that constituted those offences. The judgment then considers whether it is necessary for MT to be detained as a special care recipient or whether she be made a care recipient. Analysis of the conflicting opinions of two mental health professionals. 

Held: MT is to be detained as a special care recipient because of factors, including her risk of violent re-offending, making that status necessary in the public interest. Permanent name suppression granted.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1488
Date of Judgment
29 June 2020
Summary
Sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 11 years for murder of a 9 year old boy. The defendant was 15 years old at the time he committed the murder. The defendant was babysitting the victim when he stabbed him three times before leaving the scene. Section 104 of the Sentencing Act 2002 was engaged, requiring consideration of whether it would be manifestly unjust to impose a 17 year minimum period of imprisonment. A discount for youth and early guilty pleas was applied. Considering, in particular, the defendant's youth and the need for rehabilitation and reintegration a minimum term of imprisonment of 11 years was imposed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1456
Date of Judgment
25 June 2020
Summary
Judicial review challenge to post mosque shooting measures prohibiting categories of ammunition dismissed. The Court accepted the measures engaged the principle that property owners should not be deprived of their property without compensation, but concluded that Parliament had expressly abrogated that right. Challenge to the recommendation not to provide compensation dismissed as decision was made by Parliament and was not reviewable. Challenge to the definition of prohibited ammunition also dismissed - it was permissible to prohibit categories of military ammunition to tighten controls whether or not that ammunition had been demonstrated to be more harmful than conventional ammunition.
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 182 KB)
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1379
Date of Judgment
18 June 2020
Summary
Applications to intervene in Borrowdale v Director-General of Health and Attorney-General. Auckland District Law Society (ADLS) and Criminal Bar Association (CBA) declined leave to intervene. Court not satisfied expertise of the CBA will of assistance in considering the relevant issues and nor that ADLS is needed to ensure there is an 'equality of arms'. Court satisfied it will be assisted by submissions from the New Zealand Law Society, given the issues of general and wide importance involved. NZLS granted leave to intervene on conditions.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1356
Date of Judgment
16 June 2020
Summary
Hospice New Zealand sought declarations from the Court answering questions on the scope and application of the End of Life Choice Act 2019, which may come into force depending on the result of the referendum in the 2020 general election. The questions posed for declaratory relief could not be answered in the form they were posed, but the Court granted limited declarations on matters of statutory interpretation which responded to issues raised by Hospice New Zealand.
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 200 KB)
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1345
Date of Judgment
16 June 2020
Summary
Application for permanent name suppression by a prominent sportsperson, X. X a connected person to a high profile criminal trial. Application a sequel to (2019] NZHC 1211 and [2019] NZCA 350. High Court accepted circumstances had changed so as to permit a fresh application for permanent name suppression. But, possible undue hardship to the sportsperson still outweighed by the presumption of open reporting and other matters: R v Bhikoo [2017] NZHC 3098; R v Morgan [2019] NZHC 2134; and Re S [2004] UKHL 47, [2005] 1 AC 593. X to appeal to the Court of Appeal. Interim suppression order made as required by s 286 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011. Redacted judgment may be published
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1324
Date of Judgment
12 June 2020
Summary
The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand is granted leave to intervene, on conditions, in a challenge to policies and decisions of the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation concerning investments in Western Sahara.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1245
Date of Judgment
05 June 2020
Summary
Application for judicial review by Mt Wellington Race Park Club seeking declaration that Auckland Council disposed of a property in contravention of s 138 of Local Government Act 2002. Property in question was Council-owned,but managed and controlled by Auckland Transport. It was designated for a future road, and leased to a karting club. Agreement to lease to commercial tenant, in lieu of the karting club.

Application declined. The property is not a "park" within meaning of s 138. Further, if the property was a "park" the Council had in effect discharged its consultation obligations. If the property was a "park" and Council had failed to discharge its consultation obligations, relief would nevertheless have been declined; the interests of the innocent third party, the prospective commercial tenant, would have prevailed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1188
Date of Judgment
02 June 2020
Summary
Murder sentence.  Mr Te Poona ran a cannabis operation from his shed. His cousin arrived with the deceased.  After the deceased refused to leave Mr Te Poona shot him. Aggravating factors were the close range of the shooting, premeditation, and leaving the deceased alone on the side of the road. Starting point 10 years, 6 months' MPI, uplifted six months for offending on bail. Mitigating factors were socially and economically deprived upbringing, remorse, rehabilitative prospects, and a potential link between offending and mental health issues. Discounts could have totalled 40 per cent. Life imprisonment not manifestly unjust. 10 year-MPI imposed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1184
Date of Judgment
02 June 2020
Summary
Application for directions as to service and initial orders. The applicant has entered into a scheme of arrangement for the acquisition of all of the applicant's shares, which the respondent has purported to terminate. That termination is the subject of litigation. The Court cannot be satisfied the agreement remains on foot, so there is no jurisdiction to make orders. However, discretion would not have been exercised due to the same uncertainty as well as the fact that if the applicant covets its shareholders' approval for the litigation, it can call a regular meeting to ascertain that approval.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1161
Date of Judgment
29 May 2020
Summary
Manslaughter (single punch) and other violence.  Global starting point of five years and nine months.  Final sentence, three years and eight months.  Prompt guilty pleas and 10 percent discount for prospect of rehabilitation.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1160
Date of Judgment
29 May 2020
Summary
Sentencing for murder charge.  Defendant found guilty by jury of murder after he attempted to strangle his mother, and then attacked her with a hammer.  Pathologist indicated there were at least 10 hammer blows to the head, and defensive wounds on victim's body.

HELD: Sentence of life imprisonment, with MPI of 14 years' imprisonment.  Although s 104 threshold was met, given the brutality of the attack and the vulnerability of the victim, it would have been manifestly unjust to impose an MPI of 17 years because of his autism spectrum disorder, previous good character, and relative youth.
Case name
Case number
[2000] NZHC 1169
Date of Judgment
29 May 2020
Summary
Ms A is sentenced to five years' imprisonment for running someone over and leaving them a tetraplegic.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1119
Date of Judgment
26 May 2020
Summary
Mr Tae is sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He shot Mr Masters, the President of the Killer Bees gang who is now paralysed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1115
Date of Judgment
26 May 2020
Summary
Defendants sentenced to life imprisonment with MPls of 19 years 4 months and 19 years respectively for murder. Defendants had tortured, beaten and hanged a 17-year-old girl. Although Winter was on her second strike, life imprisonment without parole was manifestly unjust given her personal circumstances.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1088
Date of Judgment
22 May 2020
Summary
Defendants' application to strike out class action brought for 3,639 subscribers for Feltex shares in 2004. Claimants in default of order for security for costs for stage two of proceeding for 10 months and unprepared for fixtures allocated in November 2019 and May 2020. Defendants raised concerns at misleading content of crowd funding offer issued by funder to raise the amount needed. Held: proceeding to be struck out unless security for costs and confirmation of resources to complete stage two are provided by 13 July 2020. Potentially misleading content of crowd funding offer considered, and offeror directed to copy judgment to those who have been sent or had access to the offer. 
Case number
[2020] NZHC 0
Date of Judgment
21 May 2020
Case number
[2020] NZHC 0
Date of Judgment
19 May 2020
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1029
Date of Judgment
18 May 2020
Summary
Media company NZME and Nine Entertainment (the ultimate owner of the Stuff group of media companies) were in negotiations regarding a possible acquisition of Stuff by NZME.  On 22 April 2020 they agreed a two week due diligence period during which Nine would not engage in negotiations with other parties, and would give NZME matching rights for any competing proposals received ("the exclusivity agreement").  On 6 May 2020, before the exclusivity period had come to an end, Nine received a competing offer.  It subsequently terminated negotiations with NZME and commenced negotiations with the competing bidder.  NZME sought an injunction to enforce the terms of the exclusivity agreement.  Nine argued that the agreement had been frustrated and come to an end, due to various external developments (political and regulatory).

HELD: Application dismissed.  Damages unlikely to be an adequate remedy for either party.  Balance of convenience factors, however, as well as the public interest and interests of third parties, weighed against making the interim orders sought.  Damages potentially suffered by NZME for loss of chance to match the competing offer, in circumstances where there appeared to be little or no prospect of NZME being able to do so (given the need for NZME to obtain Commerce Commission clearance) are likely to be modest.  Damages suffered by Nine, in the event that delay resulted in (or contributed to) the failure of negotiations with the competing bidder, could be significant.  In addition, the public interest in maintaining robust competition in the media marketplace and the interests of third parties, including Stuff's employees, weighed against granting an injunction.