Two new JPs ready to take up community role

By Anne-Marie McDonald

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Bruce Gordon and Brian Carter congratulate each other as they become new Justices of the Peace.
Bruce Gordon and Brian Carter congratulate each other as they become new Justices of the Peace.

Since he was a child, Brian Carter had wanted to be a Justice of the Peace.

Yesterday that dream came true when he, along with Bruce Gordon, was sworn in at the Marton Courthouse.

Mr Carter owns an upholstery business and is chief of the Bulls Volunteer Fire Brigade.

He told the Wanganui Chronicle he first found out about Justices of the Peace when he was a child and thought it was a "pretty cool" role.

At several times in the intervening decades he considered being a JP but never did anything to make it happen.

"Then last year someone approached me to ask me if I wanted to be a JP, so here I am. This is certainly a special day for me."

Mr Gordon has been chairman of the Horizons Regional Council for five years. This role automatically makes him an honorary Justice of the Peace.

"So I decided to make it official," he said. "People were bringing me documents to verify, and I felt uncomfortable about the fact that I didn't know what I was doing. So I did the training for JPs, and then decided to become a JP in my own right."

Mr Gordon said he expected to be busy in his new role.

Judge Dugald Matheson said the swearing in was significant, not just for the new JPs and their families, but for the whole Marton community.

He said since the Marton Court had been downgraded to a hearings court, there was an increased need for JPs to do work such as taking oaths and declarations, hearing bail applications and minor court cases such as traffic offences.

Judge Matheson said the Justice of the Peace office had a history dating back to at least the 14th century.

"[Back then] tasks could be onerous; amongst other things the justices had the power to pursue, arrest, take and chastise offenders and rioters. Despite the decline of the physical demands, the role is just as important in today's society."

Judge Matheson noted that JPs - unlike judges - receive no payment for their work.

Laurie Hunt, president of the Wanganui JPs' Association, said it was unusual to have two JPs sworn in in Marton at the same time, and he was delighted to have Mr Carter and Mr Gordon on board. The two new JPs' families attended the short ceremony, along with other local JPs, Rangitikei mayor Andy Watson and Horizons Regional Council chief executive Michael McCartney. Two JPs, Maurice Brookie and Kataraina Rourangi, retired at the ceremony, after 32 and 17 years of service.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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