While many Kiwis are kicking back at the beach or grazing on Christmas leftovers, others are having a less-festive holiday season.
In the heart of Christchurch, at a bustling Riverside Market, hundreds of holidaymakers are enjoying its varied culinary delights, tucking into succulent souvlakis, spicy pho, and fried chicken.
But across the road, at the Garden City's district court, a parade of alleged offenders line up to appear before a judge.
On-call duty lawyers, court security officers, police officers, registry staff, Corrections, social workers – all giving up their holidays to keep the wheels of justice rolling.
The cases vary from the trifling to the serious.
A man pinches a stone lion statue, allegedly.
He asks Judge John Brandts-Giesen to indulge him: if only he could have a few hours, he could go get the lion, and hand it over to police who could then return it to its rightful owner.
The judge gives him until 2.15pm.
"I will return the stolen goods to the police," he says.
An alleged cocaine smuggler breaches bail.
Another man breaches curfew after being "abandoned by friends" after a barbecue on Christmas Day.
Career gang members are accused of burglary, breaching bail, and other crimes.
One 55-year-old man, familiar with the court process and who gave his occupation as a "caregiver", was accused of doing 100km/h down a busy Ferry Rd – a 50km/h zone – early yesterday.
He was riding a Harley Davidson motorbike and cops allege he was on the wrong side of the road. A duty lawyer said he was overtaking.
The man was charged with dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, possession of three glass meth pipes, and a cannabis plant.
Judge Brandts-Giesen granted bail, on conditions that he doesn't drive any motor vehicle, including motorbikes, and not to possess or consume any non-prescribed drug.
"If I see you back here again, driving when you shouldn't be driving ... or breaking the law in other ways, you may have trouble persuading me you should have bail," the judge warned.
Another man, looking nervous and clutching a green NRL backpack, admitted a charge of common assault.
His lawyer said he was "very keen" to participate in the restorative justice process and asked for an adjournment.
Judge Brandts-Giesen told him: "Don't let the temptations of the next few weeks bring you back before the courts."
"Yes, understood," the man replied. "Thank you very much."
In the days running up to Christmas, a man allegedly stole a bunch of garden equipment and power tools.
Another gang member – Mongrel Mob – was called up.
He was accused of breaching bail by allegedly associating with a gang member, in breach of an earlier bail condition imposed when he first appeared on a number of other charges, including gun and meth possession.
The man was readmitted to bail but the judge warned him that if he's moved to Canterbury to "turn over a new leaf", as he says, then he needs to "build up some credibility with police and show you can turn over a new leaf, rather than continue on the margins of life down here".
"Keep your nose clean, so long as you're in Canterbury," Judge Brandts-Giesen told him.
Then there was an alleged police safety order breacher.
"How do you pronounce your name?" the judge asks.
The defendant stands beside the dock, masked up, and shrugs his shoulders.
"People pronounce it different ways," he says, happy to go with whatever the judge thinks.
He vows: "There will be no future breach."
He'll be back in court next month.
"Thank you, your honour. I won't let you down."
- by Kurt Bayer, NZ Herald