Courtroom two is usually used for proceedings such as trials, hearings and sentencing dates, but on Tuesday it was the location of a very special ceremony.

More than 40 friends and family members visited Whanganui District Court to see five new Justices of the Peace sworn in by Judge Dugald Matheson.

Valerie Bartrum, Andrea Bullock, Tania King, Wilma Robinson and George London all placed a hand on the Bible and pledged an oath to their communities.

Judge Matheson welcomed everyone to the special occasion.


"It is seldom, if ever, that Whanganui has seen so many people sworn in as Justices of the Peace on one day," he said.

"I have been conducting these ceremonies for over seven years now and certainly it is the most I have had the privilege to acknowledge."

The Judge said that the office of the Justice of the Peace is of great antiquity.

There have been references to the office since the statute of King Edward III of England in 1361.

In those days each country had a Lord and three or four of the most worthy men assigned to keep the peace.

They would pursue, arrest and chastise offenders and rioters.

"I am delighted to note that today there are four women being sworn in. That is helping to tidy up a ledger that was at zero up until 1926," Judge Matheson said.

"New Zealand came into the real world - not that long ago really - by acknowledging females in the Justices of the Peace process."

Despite the decline in physical demands, the role of the Justice of the Peace is just as important in today's society.

Justices of the Peace take declarations and affidavits, witness documents and may even be required to attend hearings or trials.

The Judge said it never ceases to amaze him that they do it for no financial reward.

"Unfortunately being a JP doesn't add to the pay scale at all and what you are offering to do is for nothing, but your love for the community.

"With these oaths having been duly administered, you are now able to take up and exercise the responsibilities and privileges of a Justice of the Peace of New Zealand."

Valerie Bartrum was born in England as the Judge described it "a wee while ago" and now lives in Whanganui. She is married, has three sons and works for the Whanganui District Council as a librarian. Bartrum does volunteer work for Plunket and St John.

Andrea Bullock was born in Whanganui and has worked in hairdressing for some time. "My boss tells me you're very good at that," the Judge said. Bullock is president of Whanganui East Plunket and is on St Anne's and St George's school committees.

Tania King is the principal of Whanganui Girls' College. She was born in Palmerston North and studied at Massey University. She previously taught physical education, health and maths. "Being married to a head of maths, I accept everything you say and will not argue with you at all."

Wilma Robinson is a senior associate at Robinson & Associates. She lectured at Massey University, taught at Whanganui High School and tutored at Whanganui Regional Community Polytech. "Because she can, she is also learning French and I hope you have better success than me after seven years."

George London was born in England or as the Judge put it, he "has a name that identifies his accent a little". London volunteers for St John and is the chairman of community patrol in Marton. He and his wife have fostered 11 children together. He received a Queen's Service Medal in 2016.