If you were able to be a permanent life-long resident and full citizen of New Zealand based on the number of times you'd used the court system in the first six months of your stay, I'd be in.
The Dispute Tribunal court and I are officially best friends (sorry, Nik).
I am in the process of filing my second dispute now for monies owed to me, and I have to say, so far, the legal system in New Zealand has not let me down.
Dispute #1: Wendy J. Foreman v. Joy B. Winkleman
Joy is my former flatmate. You might remember at one time that she was going to sell me her car. Instead, she took $240 of my money to fix it and never paid me back. Or sold me the car. So I took her to court.
After finally securing a court date I showed up to plead my side of the case. She didn't - out of the country or mourning for a dead relative or car wasn't working or something like that. In her absence the court ruled in my favor. Joy B. Winkleman was required to pay Wendy Foreman the sum of $240 immediately. As you can imagine though, being 'out of the country' makes it hard for you to get your mail, so conveniently, Joy still didn't pay.
Imagine my surprise when a week after my court date, I went to a concert (in Auckland) at the theatre she was formerly employed at to find out that she was currently an employee, and was working that night (she's a clever one, huh?). Although I avoided her that night, I promptly went back down to the court on Monday morning to turn her in. She was summoned by a court official, and required to either pay or show up in court, with the consequence of being arrested for failing to do so. She paid the monies to me one day before the court date, although she still wasn't very happy about it.
As if I care how happy or unhappy she is.
Dispute #2: Ian Bellew, Sheena Papuni, Doug Tauronga, and Wendy Foreman v. Julia Gibson (pending)
Julia is my (our) former flatmate. While living here she charged us each $160 per week for rent and bills.
Since those numbers mean nothing to you, follow me through some math:
$160 x 4 (just for fun we'll exclude Julia from paying rent...) = $640 / week for rent at 126 Williamson.
Imagine our surprise when we found out that rent on our property has only ever been $550 a week.
That's a surplus of $360 a month (let's also remember, just for fun, that Julia wasn't paying rent in that equation).
For fairness, we have to take out the bills too: $360 (what we've been paying) - 250 (bills) = $110 extra each month that we have never seen. (Still without Julia paying rent).
In essence, we figure that if Julia had been paying rent each month that the surplus in our flat account (only for the last 5 months that I have been living here and there's been 5 people in the house) would be significant, as demonstrated in the following equation:
$3600 (5 people paying rent for the entire month)
-2450 (actual cost of house rent + bills per month)
$1150 x 5 (months) = $5,750.
But the truth is that Julia hadn't been paying rent. Our rent had subsidized hers. AND she thinks we owe her money. Around $400, to be exact.
So, we're still considering sending a dispute to the tenancy tribunal, but haven't decided yet. Noone in the flat can come to a reasonable decision about it (shocking, I know...), but I'm still pulling for court. It worked for me once, right...?