JPs make themselves accessible

NATASHA THYNE
Last updated 05:00 18/01/2014
Des Kearns
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ

STAMPED AND SIGNED: The president of the South Canterbury branch of Justices of the Peace, Des Kearns, at the service centre set up at the Timaru District Library, where they carry out JP duties including witnessing signatures and certifying copies of documents for members of public.

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After serving the New Zealand community for 200 years, justices of the peace are making themselves more accessible to the public.

Following the nationwide trend of providing easy access, South Canterbury JPs have set up a service centre in the Timaru District Library.

President Des Kearns said for two hours on a Saturday they witness signatures, certify copies and transcripts of documents and administer the making of statutory declarations and affidavits.

Previously JPs could be found in the phonebook but Mr Kearns said they wanted to be more available to people, setting up the service centre at the library in March 2013.

The Saturday morning service is growing in popularity, with five to six people using the service each week, said Mr Kearns.

This year is the 200-year anniversary of the arrival of the first justice of the peace, Rev Thomas Kendall, to New Zealand.

As part of the celebration Mr Kearns, along with South Canterbury Justices of the Peace registrar Kathleen Wills, will attend a conference at Waitangi in February. Mr Kearns, who has been a JP for 23 years, said it would be interesting to learn more about the early days of JPs.

There are about 7000 JPs in New Zealand. Anyone active in the community can be nominated to start the process to be a JP.

Officers elected at the recent annual meeting of the South Canterbury Justices of the Peace were: President, Desmond Kearns; immediate past president, Juliet Crawford; vice presidents: Shane Lodge and Lester Taylor; treasurer: Donald McCully; registrar, Kathleen Wills; council, Margaret Cosgrove, Sarah Davis, Alan Ferriss, Richard Harrison, Russell Hendry, Judith Johnson and Michael Maynard.

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- The Timaru Herald

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