Rotorua's Mary Burge, Ron Hope and Barry Gaylard are three Justices of the Peace who have retired from their judicial roles after 54 years' combined voluntary service to the courts.

Mary first sat on June 13, 2003 and her last sitting was on December 30- a total of 14 years.

Ron first sat on December 14, 2000, first for two years in Tauranga and then 17 years in Rotorua, with his last sitting on January 12.

Barry's first sitting was on November 2, 2001 with 16 years prior in Thames from 1996. His last sitting in Rotorua was January 20 2018, a total of 21 years.


Last month representatives from the Registry, fellow JPs, counsel and police prosecutions held an afternoon tea to acknowledge the voluntary service and presentation of Ministry of Justice RISE values certificates for service.

Despite retiring from their judicial roles, all three are still carrying on their ministerial duties.

Justices of the Peace are asked if they would be interested in court work and working on the bench, and if so are put under the tutelage of an experienced JP, as well as taking part in a course in Wellington.

In this role, the JPs mostly do list courts in the District Court, which were the likes of minor offences and traffic issues, as well as doing reprimand court on Saturday mornings.

Ron says in 19 years on the bench he has enjoyed every minute of it, enjoying the challenge of the studying and training.

"It was a wonderful way for me to follow on a 50-year career in flying."

He says he will miss the great relationships with the police, solicitors and court staff.

In 2017, 51 per cent of his JP work was completed at home, 30 per cent at service centres and the rest at other places such as court.

Last year he had 46 days in court over a 12-month period.

The ministerial work of JPs include people coming to their house with various documents - basically anything that requires a signature to be witnessed, he says.

Mary says being a JP was an opportunity which came up after she retired from teaching and she thought it would be interesting and helpful.

"It was a chance for new learning - and the learning has been ongoing - and meeting new people."

She says she will keep in touch with people she has met through the judicial service but will miss the contact with people in court and the police.

Mary says she enjoys helping people and being available when they need to have documents signed or witnessed.

She lives in the country, so it is good for people in the rural area to have someone who can undertake these duties, she says.

Barry says he enjoyed the intellectual challenge of it all and found that almost every time he sat he would learn something different, about law, people or dealing with situations.

Throughout his time in the role he found that he developed more of an empathy towards defendants and tried to unearth why people did the things they did, "rather than treat them as somebody in front of you that had to be dealt with".

He says he will miss some of the characters he met, such as lawyers who have their own idiosyncrasies.

Another is the camaraderie of the group of people he worked with.

However, Barry will continue for a while in a mentoring role and is still the registrar of the Rotorua & Districts JP Association.

He says a concern he has developed over the years, with a background as a school principal, is the increasing number of youth appearing in courts.