In NZ all murder cases must be heard in the High Court. Terminology is different to Australia. I have only lived here for 9 years and been a Kiwi for 3 years and thankfully have not been involved with the legal system (nor in Australia), long may it remain so.
I don't think this will be heard by a Magistrate, it's going higher than that!
Why worry about bringing him to Christchurch for the trial? Either video link him or hold the trial in Auckland, it’s not as though they are differing jurisdictions.Yes I agree, but NZ law is what it is if they need to front the local Magistrate, then so be it!
However in NZ there are District Courts then the High Court (permanent in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch but travels around other major cities). Above that is the Court of Appeal and top is the Supreme Court (equivalent to High Court Australia). My conjecture is that they will have to decide between bringing the prisoner to Christchurch or flying all the many witnesses to Auckland. I have no idea whether an actual trial (especially as he has so far said he will defend himself) would be allowed with the defendant on camera.
It would seem that a couple of the pre-trial hearings held so far (charging, remand etc) were handled by the Christchurch District Court with the accused appearing in person or by video link, just as a Magistrates' Court would do in most Australian states, before handing it over to the High Court.
The position in Australia is that most procedural hearings can be held by video link, but that an actual trial and sentencing must be held with the accused appearing in person. All major prisons have facilities for this, allowing prisoners to get cleaned up and put on presentable clothes (to prevent bias on the basis of their appearance) and then appear on video link for their hearing.
I can see why both sides of the upcoming trial would want it to be held in Auckland, making it easy for the court to agree to hold it in Auckland. The prosecution, being a government agency, will want to avoid the massive exercise in security and logistics of holding it in Christchurch - witnesses and officials can be flown to Auckland on a conventional passenger aircraft and accommodated in a conventional hotel, but the same cannot be said for bringing the accused to Christchurch. The defence would want the trial to be held away from Christchurch to keep the accused and their defence as far as possible from vigilante action.