What does it mean to be a JP?
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. The purpose of an appointment is not to bestow an honour on a deserving citizen, but to serve the public. The letters "JP" should, be used by those entitled to do so with discretion and with the over-riding principle (below) firmly in mind at all times.
What duties does a JP perform?
All the duties of a Justice are important and Justices must be thoroughly familiar with the carrying out of those duties. Although not every Justice becomes involved in Judicial duties, every Justice must carry out Ministerial duties. On-going training and support are offered for both Ministerial and Judicial duties.
How do I find a JP?
There is a JP near you!
A long proud history
The office of Justice of the Peace had its origin in 1195 when Archbishop Hubert, Chief Justice of England, appointed knights as "Conservators of the Peace". In 1361 King Edward III gave these officers a general power of trying practically all felonies; later an act of Henry VII initially empowered Justices of the Peace to try all offences except treason, murders and other felonies.
The first appointment of a JP in New Zealand was made in 1814 by Governor MacQuarie of New South Wales (from where New Zealand was first governed). He appointed missionary Thomas Kendall as a Justice "in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand and throughout the islands of New Zealand and those immediately contiguous thereto", to meet a growing need for a judicial officer to deal with lawlessness in the young colony - similar to the need recognised by Henry VII in England nearly 500 years earlier.
Today, our functions are more limited. The office derives its powers and functions from the Justice of the Peace Act 1957, successor to the first such act which was passed in 1907.
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