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Guidelines for hearings

What happens at a hearing?

Hearings are an important part of formal consultation processes. If you have made a submission and indicated you wish to speak at the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your submission to the hearings body.

A hearing notice will be issued prior to the hearing, with information on the dates, times and venue(s) for the hearing. The hearing venue may be a marae.

We try to avoid unnecessary formality at our hearings and while they aren't as formal as a court, they do follow a similar process.

The Chair of the hearings body will run the hearing process and direct when parties can speak or ask questions, and when breaks will be taken. The Chair will also manage any changes from the hearing procedures. 

A hearings schedule will be prepared and made available. It will include the dates, venues and order of speakers on each day with approximate timings. The hearings schedule can change at short notice and you will need to be flexible. We will keep you informed of this – unfortunately it is not possible to guarantee a specific day or time for appearing at the hearing.

Keep in touch with staff about changes to the schedule or any particular needs you have, the submission form will tell you how to get in touch.

Things to remember during the hearing

  • Arrive in plenty of time. The doors are usually open for at least 30 minutes before the hearing starts. 
  • When you arrive, complete the attendance register and take a seat in the public seating area. 
  • While the hearing is in session the doors are closed. If you need to enter or leave, be as quiet as possible. 
  • During the hearing, don’t call out with questions or make comments unless asked to do so by the committee. 
  • Photographs, sound recordings or video are not permitted at a hearing without the Chair’s consent.
  • No food or drinks other than water may be consumed in the hearing room.
  • Staff at the hearing will be able to answer any questions you have.

Who speaks when?

The Chair will set out the format of the hearing in the hearing procedures.

The hearing will usually be held in the following order:

  1. Opening the hearing – the hearing may open with a mihi whakatau.
  2. Opening statement from the Chair – to formally open the hearing on the first day and to make daily announcements.
  3. Representations – submitters who chose to speak to their submissions.
  4. Closing the hearing – the hearing may close with a mihi whakatau.
  5. Closing statement from the Chair.

Speaking to your submission (making a representation)

Speaking at a hearing is your opportunity to talk about the submission you have made. You can give your opinions, say how it will affect you, and ask for a particular decision or outcome. This is called making a representation. Someone can speak about your submission on your behalf. 

Prepare speaking notes or a summary of your submission to read at the hearing and bring 10 copies and one electronic copy to the hearing to give to the Hearing Manager.

Things to remember when speaking

Introduce yourself and/or your organisation. If you are representing an organisation, state what your role is in the organisation, the organisation's objectives, activities and membership base.

Be polite and keep calm.

Speak slowly and clearly into the microphone.

Be concise and to the point. Clearly state your views and provide information to back up your submission.

You cannot speak about information not covered in your submission or introduce new material. Speak from your notes and written submission if you are nervous or not used to speaking in public.

Deliberations and Decisions

The hearings body will deliberate and make a recommendation or decision in view of what they have heard from submitters and advisors.