Two plaques marking 200 years since the first Justice of the Peace was appointed in New Zealand were unveiled at Waitangi on Saturday.

About 35 people attended the ceremony - hosted by the Royal Federation of NZ Justices' Associations - including JPs from around the country, their families, Waitangi Treaty Grounds staff and past president Graeme Kitto.

The event started with an official ceremony, before two plaques marking the occasion were blessed by Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu then unveiled at the Treaty House.

Royal Federation of NZ Justices' Associations president Rachael O'Grady said although 2014 had been the actual bicentenary of the appointment of New Zealand's first JP - Thomas Kendall - it has taken time to find an appropriate site for the plaques.

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Back in 2014 the occasion was marked with the 86th annual JP conference at the Copthorne Hotel in Waitangi, where more than 300 Justices of the Peace turned out.

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The federation also celebrated the bicentenary by holding a reception at Government House and issuing commemorative postage stamps.

"It's really the celebration of our 200 years; that's what the plaques represent," O'Grady said.

"They serve as a reminder to celebrate our history and that we've provided information to the public for such a long time. It's the longest serving organisation in New Zealand, it's quite a remarkable record."

The chiefs Waikato and Hongi Hika with Thomas Kendall, New Zealand's first Justice of the Peace, as painted by James Barry in 1820. Photo / Alexander Turnbull Library
The chiefs Waikato and Hongi Hika with Thomas Kendall, New Zealand's first Justice of the Peace, as painted by James Barry in 1820. Photo / Alexander Turnbull Library

Kendall was a missionary in the Bay of Islands who was appointed a JP in 1814 by Governor Macquarie of New South Wales.

O'Grady - who has been a JP since 2008 in Kotemaori, a rural community in Hawke's Bay – said JPs provide vital services to their communities.

Not only do they witness documents, take statutory declarations and certify paperwork, some can serve in courts as judicial JPs and sign off search warrants for police.

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Doubtless Bay resident Bev Webber has been a JP for seven years and is also the registrar of the Far North JP Association. Up until a year ago she was also president of the Far North association.

When she first started, while living in Taipa, she was keen to "do something for the community", she said.

"I see it as a really import role, it's an honour. You're privy to a lot of information from people who get their documents signed. I've met some amazing people."