What it means to be a Justice of the Peace
People are nominated by their Member of Parliament, to the Minister of Justice, who recommends them for appointment, if suitable, to the Governor-General.
The nominee must live in the MP's electorate. Before forwarding the nomination, the MP must establish that the nominee is of good standing in the community, and that there is a need for another JP in the nominee's neighbourhood. The MP must also take into account the needs of different ethnic groups within the electorate.
The role of JP is not conferred as an honour, but is given to meet the public's needs. It is first and foremost a community service, and whatever the qualifications of a nominee, his/her appointment is made only in recognition of the community's requirements.
Newly-appointed JPs take an oath of office in which they swear to " ... do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of New Zealand, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will ...". This is the same oath as that taken by Judges of the High Court and the District Court.
JPs constitute a complete cross section of the community, although some people are not generally eligible for appointment: spouses of JPs, MPs, clergy, lawyers, doctors and the staff of debt-collecting agencies, for example. Others can be appointed but cannot sit in court: public servants, local authority employees and members of the Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society.
A Justice holds appointment for life, or until he or she resigns by notice in writing to the Secretary for Justice, or is removed from office by the Governor-General.
A number of Justices of the Peace have been honoured in the New Years and Queens Birthday awards over the years for their services to the community, to see a full list of these JPs click here.
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