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JPs mark two centuries of their making

As Justices of the Peace (JPs) celebrated 200 years of their establishment in New Zealand at Waitangi recently and it is a good occasion to recall the services that they render to the communities. In 2014, New Zealand Justices of the Peace are completing 200 years of service to the community. I have had the privilege of being associated with the people in and around Christchurch as a JP and look after their varied needs, although at odd hours at times. I received a phone call some time ago from a person living in another town about 80 kms away from my home! He said that he had tried several JPs in his neighbourhood but had not succeeded in securing an appointment. I told him that while he was welcome at my place, but I would try and locate a JP closer to his home. A few phone calls and half-an-hour later, I rang him and provided contact details of a JP within minutes from his home. His joy was beyond description. On another occasion, I offered to meet a client at 7 am at my house, due to the urgency of his situation. He could not believe that it was possible to have his documents attested at such an early hour. A ‘difficult’ transaction occurred when I helped a client with (marriage) separation documents. At such times, I need to remind myself that as a JP, I was simply assisting someone in a legal process, and that my emotions should not matter. There is a certain pleasant and positive feeling when my signature as a JP helps a person to get a job, permanent residence, or perhaps help someone get their parents from overseas to spend some time in New Zealand. Frustrations do occur as in any community role; the most common occurrence of which is that some people do not either keep up their time or appointment. But the positives of being a JP far outweigh such occasional frustrations. I believe that the best part of being a JP is that you become a part of so many people’s lives, and more importantly, the service rendered is free of charge. People from many cultures find it hard to believe that they can get several documents attested or certified for no fee at all. The smile on people’s faces is perhaps the best reward that a JP gets. Shirish Paranjape is a Justice of the Peace based at Avonhead, Christchurch and a Member of the Canterbury Justices of the Peace Association Inc; Email: shirish_manik@rediffmail.com About Our Justices of the Peace Indian Newslink carried detailed reports about JPs, their appointment and duties in its February 1, 2013 and March 15, 2014 issues. The following is the edited version of a note sent by Mr Paranjape. Missionary Thomas Kendall was the first person to be appointed a JP in 1814 in New Zealand. Since then, thousands of people have provided a dedicated service to the community. Migrants need to use the services of JPs for many purposes, including attesting copies of qualification certificates and work experience documents or for completing declarations, to sponsor members of their families overseas. A JP can witness your signature on a document, certify copies of documents including mobile phone texts and compute documents, complete an affidavit for you (usually for use in a court of law) and complete a statutory declaration form. You can locate a JP either in the Yellow Pages or at www.jpfed.org.nz JPs serve communities at their place of residence or work; attend “JP Service Clinics’ held on specified days at public places such a library or shopping mall and visit the residence of a client in exceptional circumstances. JPs are appointed through a robust process through nomination by community organisations, personal interview with the local MP, Police verification and check, written test and a personal interview by Justice Ministry and the local JP Association. After appointment, JPs attend seminars and training courses regularly to be appraised of the changes in legislation and other developments affecting their services and understand the needs of clients. The Royal Federation of New Zealand Justices’ Association is the national body for 29 regional member associations throughout New Zealand, which represents around 7000 JPs. Website: www.jpfed.org.nz/

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