It was an afternoon of appreciation and achievement in Whanganui's Courtroom two.

Family and friends gathered as Judge Philip Crayton swore in a new Justice of the Peace, Debra Mortensen while Janet Bullen retired and Jim O'Neill stepped down.

Shirley Christie, already a retired Justice of the Peace was also commended for her service.

Born and bred in Hamilton, Mortensen moved to Whanganui in 2013 and said she has no intention of leaving.


Last year Mortensen's husband died from cancer and this prompted her to go for the position.

"I'm so pleased to be doing something for the community," Mortensen said.

Judge Crayton commended Mortensen on her previous voluntary work at the SPCA and at Neighbourhood Watch.

"You have already shown dedication to giving back to the community," he said.

"It is special not only for the justice to be sworn in and her family but for the Whanganui community for whom she'll serve."

Crayton also acknowledged the service and contribution of Janet Bullen, Jim O'Neill and Shirley Christie.

Janet Bullen was sworn in as a JP in 2009.

She first became a Ministerial JP and then completed extra training to become a Judicial JP sitting on the bench for the past 10 years.


"She put in many additional hours of work with intense learning and now is qualified as a judicial officer followed by regular training to retrain to keep up her skill level," president of the Justice of the Peace Association, Murray Corps, said.

Judge Crayton said Bullen was always very aware of the importance of the role.

Bullen was also the chairwoman of Wanganui's Community Education Service, is the current Vice President of Age Concern Whanganui and is currently helping Manawatu set up an Age Concern branch.

Over the years she has been an area official for Zonta, a member of the Heart Foundation, New Zealand Founders Society, Rebus and U3A group.

Bullen started a pacemaker support group for those recovering from pacemaker implants.

Jim O'Neill was sworn in in 2005 and is stepping down from his position in August.

Judge Crayton commended him on his service in recycling and putting money back into the community through gifts of $500 to each area school.

His roles have varied during his time as a JP and included assisting with the rostering of the judicial JP.

O'Neill has been a judicial trainer for a number of years.

"We are grateful that you not only through training but through rostering have always been fully committed," Judge Crayton said.

O'Neill is also a member of Grumpy Old Men Enterprises.

Shirley Christie served as a JP from 1989 until 2017 and has also worked as a social worker for more than 20 years.

Christie was awarded the Queen's Service Medal as part of this year's Queens Birthday Honours.

She served as an executive of the Whanganui Justice of Peace branch for 13 years and was a tutor for Justice of the Peace ministerial tutors.

Her travels took her to out of town courts and she was appointed the visiting Justice of Peace to Whanganui and district prisons.

Christie sat on the Whanganui court bench as a judicial Justice of the Peace and served as a local executive and as president of Brith right Whanganui to which she is a life member as well as the vice-president for Birth Right New Zealand, Judge Crayton said.

"It is fair to say you are someone who has lead by example and you are someone who has sought proactively to contribute to making a difference to our community."

"But also and I think this is always important to lead change within the community, to shine a light on the direction that perhaps we should all do and for that I acknowledge you I acknowledge your service as a Justice of the Peace."