Bookings & what to expect

Overview: The Ministry’s process for managing booking requests and travel arrangements, and what to expect at the court or in the hearing room.

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Interpreter bookings and travel

Booking requests and travel arrangements

The Central Registry (CR) manages the booking and payment of interpreters for all courts and tribunals, except the Māori Land Court, Waitangi Tribunal and the Immigration & Protection Tribunal.

The CR also makes any special travel and accommodation arrangements. When you advise the CR that you’re available for a hearing, you (as a provider on an interpreter’s behalf, or an individual interpreter) will need to provide details of any special travel requirements.

Read more about travel expenses and arrangements

Standard Terms and Conditions apply to all interpreter bookings engaged on behalf of courts and tribunals, whether the booking is agreed over the phone or in writing. When you accept a booking to provide interpreter services, you’re automatically accepting these Standard Terms for the engagement.

The Standard Terms can be found on our Ministry website. Please make sure you’re familiar with them before you respond to a booking request as, unless otherwise specified, they will supersede any terms and conditions you’ve previously provided to us.

Standard Terms and Conditions for Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals

Booking confirmation

When the CR is told that an interpreter is available for a hearing, they send a confirmation email with a case reference number. In this email you’ll receive a link to the Standard Terms that apply to the booking, a confirmation letter, and further information to support your assignment.You’ll also receive an itinerary if you’ve requested special travel requirements.

What to do if you don’t receive a booking confirmation

Contact the CR if the hearing is three days away (or less) and you haven’t received a confirmation email. You should contact the CR at any time if you’ve misplaced your documents.

Email: quoting the case reference number and party names.

Phone: 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) within 48 hours of the hearing for any urgent requests or questions about a booking.

Bookings for the Immigration & Protection Tribunal

The process for booking an interpreter for both hearings and teleconferences in the Immigration & Protection Tribunal (IPT) differs slightly, in order to meet the specific needs of the Tribunal.

Case managers from IPT will continue to use the list of interpreters supplied to the Ministry by the Refugee Status Branch of Immigration New Zealand, to identify an interpreter. This list is private and is not published by the Ministry.

A case manager from IPT will contact the interpreter to check their availability. The case manager will also undertake a conflict of interest check with the interpreter.

The CR will email a booking confirmation to the interpreter. This will include a copy of the Guidelines and Code of Ethics specific to the IPT.

Minimum payment

The Ministry’s Standard Terms don't include a minimum payment policy. Instead, any minimum payment will need to be agreed at the time of booking. However, the Central Registry’s general approach will be to agree payment for a minimum of three hours for attending a court or tribunal hearing.

There may be instances when you're engaged for additional hearings within the three-hour time period while attending court. If this occurs, the Ministry will only pay you the amount agreed at the time of booking.

Standard Terms and Conditions for Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals

Payment in the event of cancellation and cases that don’t proceed as expected

If a hearing is unexpectedly cancelled or rescheduled, finishes early, or extends beyond the expected duration, you’ll be paid according to the terms set out in our Standard Terms.

Standard Terms and Conditions for Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals

Name suppression

The confirmation letter you receive may say ‘Name Suppressed’.

A suppression order means there are restrictions on publication of certain details, which may be either as a result of a statutory prohibition or judicial order restricting publication. The suppression order can apply to the defendant or another party in the case, such as the victim.

You must keep all details relating to a case confidential, but should be particularly careful if there is a suppression order.   

You may face legal action, including a fine or imprisonment, if you breach a suppression order by disclosing any of the suppressed details.

Update your contact details

You can update your contact details by emailing the CR.


If you’re interpreting for the Immigration & Protection Tribunal, you can update your contact details by contacting:

Refugee Status Branch of Immigration New Zealand (MBIE)(external link)

How the Ministry uses your contact details

The Ministry holds a national list of interpreters and interpreter agencies. This list contains an interpreter’s name, email, language(s) spoken, and the court area the interpreter works in.

The national list is provided to the following groups on request:

  • people wanting an interpreter for a court or tribunal hearing who don’t qualify for a Ministry-paid interpreter. The list may be provided directly to a party or their lawyer.
  • third-party service providers who may need an interpreter.

The CR will provide a list of interpreters located in the area where the court or tribunal hearing is to be heard. If no interpreter is available in the local area, interpreters from other areas will be included.

If you don’t want your contact details to appear on the national list, you can let us know by email.


What to do on the day of the hearing

Where to go

Make sure you arrive on time, before the hearing. We recommend you arrive at least 30 minutes before the hearing is scheduled to begin. The confirmation email will have all the details, including the date, time and location. Most tribunal hearings are held at the local District Court.

Find a court

Parking near some courts is limited, so make sure you leave enough time to find a park.

What to do if you’re running late or can no longer attend

Call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) as soon as you become aware you’ll be late or can’t attend.

Check the location of the hearing and start time on arrival

Bring the confirmation email with you and go to the main public counter on arrival at the court. Sometimes the hearing room and start time can change on the day. Court staff will help you find the hearing room and tell you about any changes.

Security in courts and tribunals

The Ministry has staff on hand to ensure the personal safety of people who attend court. You can talk to a Ministry staff member (either security or court staff) on the day of the hearing about any safety concerns you may have.

Alternatively, you can raise any safety concerns by emailing us and quoting the case reference number.


If urgent, you should call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) and ask to speak to the case manager for the court or tribunal hearing.

Submitting invoices and timesheets

You need to complete and submit an invoice and timesheet after a hearing.

You must sign your timesheet and have it approved by court staff. To get approval, report to a case manager or the main counter after the hearing has finished.

Read more about how to submit an invoice and timesheet

What to expect in the hearing room

Terminology used in a court or hearing

Most courts and tribunals use specific words and language (terminology).

Glossary of frequently used words and terms

Recordings of hearings

Most hearings record the interpretation and the judge may call for a transcription.

The interpreter’s oath or affirmation

A witness giving evidence in a court or tribunal hearing is asked to swear an oath or make an affirmation first. If you’re interpreting for a witness, you’ll also be asked to swear an oath or make an affirmation.

By swearing an oath or making an affirmation, you’re making a promise that your interpretation of the evidence is true and correct. You commit perjury and may face criminal charges if you knowingly make a false oath or affirmation.

An oath is a declaration made using a religious book or administered in a way that the person giving the oath declares to be binding on them. An affirmation is an alternative declaration for people who don’t want to take a religious oath.

The court registrar administers the oath or affirmation and this will be done for you first, as you will be required to interpret the oath or affirmation for the witness. The registrar will read the appropriate script for the oath or affirmation. You’ll be required to indicate your agreement to the oath or affirmation.

Type of interpretation in a court or tribunal hearing

Interpreters usually provide consecutive interpretation rather than simultaneous interpretation in New Zealand courts and tribunals.

Consecutive interpretation means the speaker pauses at the end of each segment to allow the interpreter to repeat that segment in the second language. Simultaneous interpretation is when the interpreter interprets as the speaker speaks. The speaker doesn’t stop at regular intervals; this allows arguments to flow as they would if the interpreter were not there.

Simultaneous interpretation is not used very often in New Zealand because it requires recording equipment that courts and tribunals don’t have. However, the presiding officer may sometimes request it, such as for a lawyer’s opening or closing address or the judge’s summing up. Where simultaneous interpretation is to be used, the court will set up the necessary equipment, or give you the material to be interpreted in advance.



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