JP council answers call

More overseas students and a need for easier access to justices of the peace has led to a new JP service at the Southern Institute of Technology.

Southland Justices of the Peace Association council registrar Gavin Evans said that until last year there had been three JPs on campus but two had since retired, leaving too much demand for just one.

Monday had been the first day of the service, which had generated an influx of interest, he said.

Although there was a JP service centre at the Citizens Advice Bureau in the city, the council recognised a need to expand to the campus.

The growing number of overseas students, who needed help with various types of documentation, reinforced the need for a service at SIT, Mr Evans said.

It was open to all students and members of the public would not be turned away.

Sometimes people found it difficult to find a JP and the new service was a better way to provide JP access to students, he said.

"It's easily accessible with regular hours and sometimes people prefer that type of environment instead of turning up to a stranger's (JP's) home," he said.

The Royal Federation of New Zealand Justices of the Peace had also set up a new website to "find a JP", which contained a free text search engine with postcode and name options for all of Southland.

"It's our duty to provide a service to the community and it's important to get it right and be accessible to everyone," he said.

The Southland Justices of the Peace Association service centre will operate in the SIT administration block every Monday and Wednesday in February from noon until 1.30pm. From March until November it will be available on Wednesdays from noon until 1.30pm.

A Southland recruitment drive for more justices of the peace had recently been successful.

JPs in Southland were part of an ageing population and there had been a need for mature people in their 40s to fill the gaps left by older people who had stepped down.

The council had wanted a better gender balance and more rural and Maori representation.

The Southland Times