Friday, 25 September 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Changing face of Hauraki Justices of the Peace Association

We tend not to give them a second thought during our normal day to day routine, but when we need one, it’s usually with some degree of urgency. And often members of the public who come seeking assistance do so outside of normal business hours. But it’s all part of the job for a Justice of the Peace or JP as we commonly know them.

Members of the public need the services of a Justice of the Peace for a variety of reasons - witnessing signatures, taking statutory declarations and affidavits, certifying copies of documents and, occasionally, dissolution of marriage.

Justices of the Peace have been serving New Zealand since 1814. Making their role even more commendable is the fact that all JPs work under both a strict code of ethics and a code of practice which includes carrying out their duties free of charge. Their work within the community is on a strictly voluntary basis.

But despite the hard graft without pay rule, it’s amazing how long many JPs stay loyal to the cause. In a recent press statement, Kris Purden, registrar of the Hauraki Justice of the Peace Association, said that, earlier this year, the organisation presented certificates to four justices who had served between 27 and 36 years each.

“There are 99 active Justices of the Peace in the Hauraki Association currently and a further 21 who have been awarded JP (Retired) status. A Justice of the Peace can apply for JP (Retired) status after ten years of service but most complete many more years,” says Kris.  

One of the association’s biggest changes of late is the inclusion of more women in the ranks, which is quite a change from what had been largely seen as a male dominated role in the past. In fact, over the last four years, all of the new appointments within the Hauraki Association’s area have been female.

However, finding new blood to take on the position is not getting any easier. “Part of the criteria for all potential justices is to have a history of community involvement and this is getting harder and harder for many due to work and family pressures,” Kris says. 

In Whitianga there are currently 16 active JPs, including David Harvey who takes a leadership role within the group. He acts as a mentor for any new JPs locally and also provides training and upskilling for those in the wider Hauraki Association.  “All JPs have a common thread, which is essentially a strong desire to serve their community. We don’t offer legal advice, our main role is to carry out certain tasks and to have a strong sense of right and wrong. We will always endeavour to provide a speedy service to the public, but we also have a responsibility and duty of care to ensure procedures are followed correctly and everything is in order. In that regard, the better prepared the public are, the smoother the paperwork goes for the JP concerned,” he says.

While most of a JP’s work is done from home, the Hauraki Association has also established service desks in Waihi, Ngatea, Whitianga and Thames so that members of the public have easy access to the services. A local JP is available at the Whitianga Social Services Centre in Cook Drive on Mondays from 10:00am to 12:00pm. If their services are required outside those hours, the public can track down a local JP by going online at www.justiceofthepeace.org.nz.

For members of the public needing a JP in the future, the following tips may be useful to ensure things go smoothly - phone and make an appointment beforehand, unless you are using a service desk, explain what you need to have done and understand your documentation, do not sign anything beforehand, take along photo identification and ensure that a JP can actually complete your documentation (you can ask them when you make an appointment).

For those interested in becoming a Justice of the Peace, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Pictured: David Harvey is taking a leadership role within the group of 16 Justices of the Peace in Whitianga and is also training for those in the wider Hauraki Justice of the Peace Association.

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