consumer language in New Zealand justice
This article examines the use of the term ‘customer’ in the justice system. It recognises that while the use of the term is designed to encourage ministry staff to focus on citizens’ needs, deploying a consumerist concept creates several fundamental problems in the context of the courts: it creates the impression that courts are a private rather than a public good; risks undermining neutrality and independence in the courts; and disguises and misrepresents the true nature of the interaction between the courts and citizens. The article concludes by suggesting a new way to meet the aims of ‘customer service’ while also protecting the independence and neutrality of the courts, by adopting manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga as guiding principles.
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