200 years of the JP RSS

Regional Ramblings - Our "Different History"

Ric Carlyon - Monday, August 31, 2015


They Must Be Snobs!

In the mid-1880s a law change meant Mayors were appointed, ex-officio, Justices of the Peace. It was supposed to be the first step towards elected JPs. Mocking this move in the House of Representatives, opposition parliamentarians rose one after the other to move that every member of every Education Board be a JP, then members of River Protection Boards, followed by all members of Charitable Aid Boards, members of Roads Boards and County Councillors. Then, with further ridicule, it was proposed all Members of Parliament be JPs. Finally, “I move every elector in the Colony be a JP”, called out Edward Wakefield, Member for Geraldine, “they will do much better than many already appointed!” While this trifling in the House was ignored, revealing news came from Auckland – that appointed JPs would resent having to recognise ex officio JPs at their meetings and socials. “We can hardly believe this,” reported the Star, “some of the Justices of the Peace in Auckland must be dreadful snobs!” Notwithstanding, in 1893 they had to acknowledge Elizabeth Yates, of Onehunga, the first woman elected Mayor in the British Empire, and by virtue of the office, a J.P. ex officio, also the first such appointment held by a woman in the Empire.



“Don‘t you know who I am?”

In 1879 there was the strange case of a JP having the local constable, PC Bashford, locked up during a licensing hearing at Malvern. The JP, Colonel De Renzie James Brett, Major General and Scott-Pasha, Sultan's Army, and Knight of the Medjidie (3rd Class), Member of the Legislative Council, Justice of the Peace for New Zealand and Colonel of Her Majesty's 108th Foot, was about to hear the first application for pub licences when  he engaged with the policeman. “Do you not know me?” he asked. “No”, said the policeman which was the wrong answer when speaking to someone who wanted his decorations from 4 crowned heads, his military service in Burma, India and the Crimea recognised… and acknowledged with a crisp salute. The Colonel shouted across the courtroom - “You, constable, have passed me three times today without saluting – if you don’t recognise me then I shall make you, and you’ll be kicked off the force”. Constable Bashford held his ground. “These are not the actions of an officer and a gentleman: of course I shall not salute you!” Too much for the 79-year-old Colonel – “Sergeant, arrest that man!” Poor Bashford was escorted away and stayed in the cells for 11 hours. He took an action against false imprisonment which was probably dropped to save the well-decorated and community-minded gent further public embarrassment.

Central Districts

Poor Advice from a JP 

In a Dannevirke Licensing hearing in 1905 the Magistrate, Mr James, SM, heard complaints about the licensee of the Makotuku Hotel, trading illegally on a Sunday. Brass bandsmen, playing locally, had their lunch at the hotel and then after the performance they returned for refreshments at the bar. The publican said he had been given very good advice that if he served drinks without charge no offence was being committed. His adviser was none other than Pastor Ries who should have known better on three counts. As a clergyman he should have observance of the Sabbath upper-mind. As a Justice of the Peace he should have known the law. Thirdly, as a member of the Licensing Committee he must have known the Licensing Laws intimately. The Magistrate said the advice he gave was wrong: technically the law had been broken. But in all conscience he couldn’t convict Geddes. However, things evened out. Geddes was immediately charged with another breach, convicted and fined.

Eastern Bay of Plenty

Wrong Person, Wrong Plea

A man named Hori, according to newspaper reports of the day in March 1941, had been arrested, bailed, and had his appearance before the local JP fast coming up. He knew he was in for a fine but wanted to get off as lightly as he could. So off to into town and in Whakatane’s main street he found the sign pointing to a lawyer’s office. Along the corridor, up the stairs, he entered an office and immediately addressed the man behind the desk. “I’ve been pinched” he said, “and I want to get off lightly… here’s some money”, throwing some coins on to the desk, “look after me and make sure I’m treated right in Court”. The man at whom the cash had been aimed looked very startled and was about to become very indignant. He was a local JP occupying an office next door to the lawyer. The defendant had taken the wrong entrance and it was only this explanation that saved him from a charge of blatant bribery.

Far North

A Rapid Retreat

Seamen from the ship in Northland port came to see the JP. Business completed, there was a comment passed about previous time when the JP did not help. Tempers rose, shouting broke out, bad language flowed. The JP managed to shut and bolt the door and stood behind it. Afraid for his life he armed himself with the nearest weapon he could grab. But the seamen were determined, their strength probably fortified by liquor, and they began tearing down the JP’s house. The door surround was the first to be attacked. Alarmed by the noise, locals turned out to help the beleaguered JP. Within minutes there was a hundred in the crowd and the outnumbered sailors beat a hasty retreat to their ship.  The year was 1815 and the JP whose residence was saved was Thomas Kendall, this country’s first JP. The angry seamen came from the Phoenix and they had no real reason to attack the New Zealand’s first JP. It was said they gave up so promptly when scores of Maori appeared on the scene because, according to Robert McNab in his history book From Tasman to Marsden, they had heard the word on the New Zealand coast - that the natives were cannibals, and, McNab adds, that they were always hungry.


A Fine Judgement

JPs are often called on to serve their communities when an objective, trusted, viewpoint is called for. So it was in the 1870s in Patumahoe, South Auckland, when local JP Captain Waller Harris was called on to be the judge at the annual Boxing Day horse races. He would have been asked in earlier years but he trained a couple of useful gallopers, so had a conflict of interest.  Now, at the 1874 annual event the JP was faced with a very difficult decision. In the sixth on the card, the hurdles handicap over a mile and a half, well-matched hacks ran very closely until the favourite, “Eclipse”, threw its jockey. Embarrassed but undaunted, the rider remounted, galloped furiously, caught up and came in for what today would be called a very close photo- finish. Captain Harris, JP, discovered he could not reserve judgement till later and that he had to decide on what he had just seen without the assistance of further adduced evidence, argument or assistance from the Court Clerk. Nor could he remand the matter sine die. Everyone awaited his decision. He gave the race to “Eclipse”, and was greatly relieved there was no sign of an appeal. Thus another weighty decision handed down… but, as usual, not necessarily universally accepted. Mr Barriball later contended that his useful bay, Barney, took it out and was due the three sovereigns in prize money.      


Land Rush

With land ballots in full swing on the East Coast in 1911 there was an all-out rush to get the accompanying statutory declaration sworn. Gisborne Justices of the Peace were run off their feet, especially those who had offices in town. “We have been besieged by applicants,” one JP said, “and we have had to entirely suspend our usual business in recent days. I have signed 85 of these documents to date and I am resigned to giving my services fulltime to satisfy the unceasing rush of applicants”. As the Gisborne Times noted at the time “…a JP’s lot is often not a particularly happy one!”


Wintering Over

In the late 1800s Gore JPs were well acquainted with a local, John O’ Dyer, nick-named the Missing Link by locals who believed he was the bit that was missing in Darwin’s Theory. O’ Dwyer, a remittance man, roamed Southland doing odd jobs. He had a terrible temper whenever challenged, he always used rough language and his clothes were never exactly clean. He was particularly argumentative when intoxicated. Local JPs often dealt with him for being drunk in a public place, but there were thefts, too, over the years: a gold watch from a local farmer, six bottles of whiskey from the Gordon pub and then there were other appearances for using bad language. On one occasion he came before the local J.P. in June, just on the approach of Southland’s freezing winter weather. Jack appeared not too warmly clad, suffering from the cold. Mr MacGibbon, J.P., in passing sentence, considerately remarked, 'It’ll be three months' imprisonment this time, John - now that’ll see you through the worst of our winter.”


The Hilarious “J.P.”

Justices of the Peace in Te Aroha, Paeroa and Thames had the opportunity in early 1906 to see the 3-act comedy “The J.P.” which was staged in their various towns. Many other J.P.s throughout the country no doubt attended the hit production during its 20 week nation-wide tour. It starred actors from London and, according to newspaper critics, “provided a welcome evening of hilarity”. The plot centred on Caesar Montague, J.P. who in a typical Jekyll and Hide scenario was very proper and reserved at home going about his J.P. duties, but once abroad in France where his staid and upright position in society was unknown, he let himself go, getting into all kinds of impossible and hilarious situations. The “Ohinemuri Gazette” reported only a fair attendance that January night in Paeroa despite what its critic thought was the funniest show ever presented in the town…”indeed the audience was kept in one continuous roar of laughter from the rise to the fall of the curtain”. Local J.P.s may have seen something of themselves in the storyline!?

 Hawkes Bay

No Alternatives

In February 1904 two JPs in Hastings had to consider an application to have a man bound over to keep the peace. Their worships decided on another course they thought better suited the circumstances and convicted the man for using insulting and provoking language, imposing a fine of three pounds. Their alternative justice was immediately appealed and they found their actions set aside by the Supreme Court in Napier. The conviction was quashed.


Hutt Valley & Districts

Defining “Slop”...

The scene was in the Hutt in August 1904 when a youth under caution from police began taunts aimed at the constabulary. “You’re a slop!” he shouted and was promptly arrested. “Coppers”, “Peelers”, “Bobbies”, “Razas” and “Crushers” okay, but not “Slop”. In Court the defendant’s lawyer made his case to the JP. “Police are beginning to stand on their dignity”, he said, “and anyway I have searched with diligence through Webster’s Dictionary and can find nothing that shows the word “slop” to be offensive. On the other hand it could be taken as a term of endearment describing the constable’s tunic. ‘Slop’”, he said, “refers to clothing, a loose coat or smock frock, the term possibly arising from the early police uniform. So that can hardly be insulting”.  But the JP on the bench had little appetite for a lesson in clothing fashions of yesteryear, ignored the defence and stood by the policeman. “The force must be protected” he said “with a fine”.



Tarred and Feathered

An ongoing and widely-known torrid affair between a farmer and the local blacksmith’s wife was the talk of Kaikoura in late 1906, soon escalating to a case of assault being heard by J.P.s in the local Courtroom. The blacksmith, well aware of the enduring assignations, wasn’t interested in avenging his honour by confronting the amorous farmer. But his brother soldiers in the mounted rifles were up to the job and corralled the ardent farmer at the river bed. Despite a good defence mounted by the philanderer, the military had the numbers and forced him to strip. They then proceeded to tar- and-feather the naked man. Vowing retribution, he prosecuted the posse but found townsfolk and the presiding J.P.s lacked sympathy. The cases were dismissed.        


Nelson Tasman

“Amateur Magistrates”

Judgement by two JPs in Nelson in 1879 led to many newspapers of the day asking in their editorials whether untrained “honorary and amateur magistrates” should continue to be allowed on the Bench given, as they put it, “the extraordinary decisions that we repeatedly hear from many parts of the Colony”.  The Nelson case involved a man arrested for using obscene language in Nelson’s main street. Witnesses told the Court he was assaulted by police while being taken in and then again in the lock-up. There, they said, 2 policemen seized the prisoner by his whiskers, banged his head against a wall before he was knocked to the ground. In Court a charge of using obscene language failed. Not satisfied, the constable laid a further charge, of assaulting a policeman. In that defended hearing, despite unchallenged evidence of the policemen’s brutality, the two J.P.s convicted, ordering a fine of ten shillings. The newspaper “New Zealander” fired a salvo against the way JPs were appointed saying “There are many equally sagacious individuals writing J.P. after their names in the Colony, and it is too bad that the liberties of the people should be entrusted to people who are not only above suspicion, but have insufficient intelligence to discharge the duties of the responsible office they undertake”.



New Brooms Sweep Clean

Fresh faces in Waipu pleased the Northern Advocate newspaper’s correspondent when, in 1890, there was a change of both Justice of the Peace and policeman in the town. Before the constable came, the scribe wrote “some hair-brained youth galloped home from church knocking down two or three worshippers, a petty assault case would result in a free-fight between the Clans, lazy graziers left their dead cows to fester beside the highway, larrikins gave rent to war… and oh… so many gave impeachment to the no-licence area and its absence of liquor outlets. But now with the new constable and J.P. all that’s changed… it’s a fine of 3 pounds for furious riding and other penalties in the Court. And there’s not a reckless rider, a larrikin, a sly-grog seller, or any other nuisance from the Cave to the Cove, the Dan and Beesheba of Waipu”. The correspondent added that the town was no more unruly that any other. “It’s just that with a population of 1,200 a constable is warranted and what better officer that P.C. Abrams, whose motto is “sauviter in modo, fortiter in re”, gently in manner, firmly in action.

North Otago

JPs Resolve Question of Custody… or Bail

The Oamaru Mail on 8th August 1893 noted that James Ashby, alias Tommy Lambert, “…who is well known in police circles…” was before the Court again. He was charged before J.P.s William Murcott and James Findlay with killing a ewe, value 16 shillings, the property of John Anderson of Moeraki, with intent to steal the carcase. Constable Joyce sought a remand for a few days because one of the witnesses was ill, unable to attend to testify. After consideration their Worships granted a remand for 7 days. They had to consider whether it would in custody or on bail. Accused was then charged with stealing a piece of timber, value two shillings and sixpence from the same person. After hearing all the evidence the accused was sentenced to eight days in Oamaru Jail. The question of bail during the remand on the other charge no longer arose – the JP’s had conveniently seen to it that Mr Ashby would be behind bars for a week. 



Riot: Bloodshed, J.P. Obstructed

No fewer than eight JPs - Captain Cargill, Henry Jeffreys, Charles H. Kettle, Edward Lee, James Macandrew, Dr William Purdie, Robert Williams, and Alfred R. Chetham Strode - took the bench in Dunedin in September 1852 to hear serious charges resulting from fighting among some of the town’s best-known businessmen on Princes Street. Unrepeatable insults were traded, walking sticks were used as weapons, blows were traded and there was bloodshed during the riot over an argument about an article in the local newspaper. A passer-by, Justice of the Peace William H. Reynolds, tried to break up the melee, later prosecuting one of the assailants for obstructing him while he was carrying out his duty. The crowded Bench agreed, imposing a fine of 2 pounds and costs but Mr Reynolds thought the JPs had been too lenient and said he was resigning as a JP  in disgust. He later reconsidered. Several court cases followed as various parties in the affray prosecuted their ungentlemanly aggressors and the Court ordered fines ranging from a salutary one shilling to a whopping five pounds, the maximum amount within its powers.

Rotorua & Districts

Crowded House

Rotorua JPs Nesbitt and Johnson never officiated at a more crowded court than in July 1937 with 18 defendants lined up, awaiting their turn before the Bench. Their appearance followed a police raid on a boatshed suspected of being a gambling den. When police rushed in, one man leapt fully clothed into Lake Rotorua and emerged some hours later when police relaxed their search, but was picked up. The Prosecutor told the crowded court that the boatshed was a den of iniquity, a menace to the community, with big sums being gambled morning, noon and night and even on Sundays. “One man”, the police sergeant said, “tried his best to escape, leaping into the freezing lake. Lucky he didn’t drown. He’s the one sneezing and sniffling in court this morning”. The JPs entered convictions and fined each of the gamblers four quid, the occupier of the boat shed 75 pounds.  


South Canterbury

A Political Appointment… or Envy?

“Great Scott! Where will the line be drawn?” The question was posed in Letters to the Editor of the Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser in July 1896, commenting on the appointment of a new Justice of the Peace at Little River. “I notice that the native school teacher is the person on whom the honour has been conferred,” the letter says and asks “who is he, and what has he done? Is it because of the extreme deference he has shown to the local M.P.? We already have two resident J.P.s, men who are well qualified, highly esteemed and of independent means. If another J.P. is needed why should a comparative stranger been appointed in preference to many old residents, intelligent and respectable men? Yours, Honour to whom honour is due”.  


Winton Wants…

“A resident Justice of the Peace is urgently required at Winton”. So said the Southland Times in June 1875. “The nearest lives upwards of two miles away, and is approachable only by a fearful road, with many creeks, several of them often unfordable, except on horseback,” the Winton correspondent reported. “An incident which occurred last week will illustrate and exemplify what I wish to convey. A very harmless (to all, except himself) drunkard had been tumbling about and had cut his face, so it was a charity to lock him up. When sober he had to be marched over two miles to the nearest J.P., through a mud bog, and through creeks, as the constable, quite rightly, has just one horse. The absence of the constable from his station upon such frivolous duty is a public grievance and the appointment of some suitable resident to the Commission of the Peace would obviate all this”.

South Taranaki

JP: Pioneer Town Planner

Hawera JP, J. Livingstone, took a unique centre-stage role in the development of South Taranaki, when in September 1875 he was asked to chair a meeting on behalf of Provincial Government, called to define the boundaries for the proposed new township of Hawera. Mr Livingstone had to contend with the owners of ten acre blocks who wanted to be outside the town, but they quickly saw the light and relented. The JP must have followed the Sport of Kings, perhaps a betting man,  because he made sure the race course was included within the boundaries, making the size of the township a rounded 420 acres. It was noted many new houses were being erected and the Roman Catholic Church, enjoying record attendances, was moving the church from Waihi into the township and greatly extending its capacity to cope with record congregations. 


South Otago

Shortages on the Gold Fields

The rush of prospectors to the region in the early 1860s left Otago short of officials to service the sudden and migratory population on the goldfields. In December 1861 the Otago Daily Times claimed the Government was “unaccountably neglectful, guilty of a flagrant, unjustifiable breach of duty” when it failed to commission officers required. The article noted that Major Edward Croker-Stewart J.P., at Tuapeka is on the Commission of the Peace and therefore can act as an ordinary, but not as a Resident, Magistrate. “We believe he has found it necessary on several occasions to exceed his functions by acting as a Resident Magistrate, and probably he has laid himself open to heavy penalties. Captain Baldwin, of Waitahuna, is not even a Justice of the Peace, so he is unable to sit on the Bench. His position has been most disagreeable and painful and we believe that nothing but a desire not to inconvenience the public service has prevented him from throwing it up. Magisterial duties devolve on a gold fields' warden ex-officio, and daily, almost hourly, so Captain Baldwin must have felt the annoyance of being unable to perform duties that naturally pertained to his office. It is a monstrous thing that a population of 6,000 or 8,000 persons should be left for months without the protection of a Magistrate. We do not hesitate to say that such a thing is unknown elsewhere in the British Dominions”. 


Policeman… Prosecute Thyself

“Call Alfred Ernest Rowell, sergeant of police from Stratford” called out the Clerk of the Court in Stratford on a September morning in 1928. The J.P. presiding had the spectacle of a sergeant of police proceeding to prosecute himself. He charged himself with permitting the police station chimney to catch fire, contrary to borough by-laws. “I am afraid I must plead guilty” the sergeant told the court “and the section is mandatory unless it can be proven it was not my fault as occupier. The fire brigade dealt with the outbreak and said the chimney was very dirty indeed. So the law applies to me. I point out, your worship that I am a first offender and find I must prosecute myself otherwise I could not, in all conscience, prosecute others. I’m afraid I have to advise Your Worship that the maximum fine is as high as five pounds”. The JP ordered a fine of ten shillings with three shillings costs. “Stand down” said the Clerk and the Sergeant resumed his usual place in Court and prosecuted other miscreants on the day’s list.


JP Stands For… ?

Detectives had to run covert inquiries when cleaning up after a case of bookmaking in Hamilton in early 1930. The bookie had been convicted and fined a hefty 300 pounds for running a betting business using a Post Office Box in Hamilton under a false name. Now police were on the trail of the bookie’s Huntly agent who signed the betting slips merely “J.P., Huntly”. Determined to catch the J.P. involved, detectives had been intercepting betting slips as they arrived at Hamilton Post Office. But not one of them revealed the author: all were signed merely with the letters “J.P.”, and “Huntly” so detectives’ suspicion fell on all J.P.s in Huntly and around about.  Then police got lucky. One betting slip was signed J.P., Huntly, and for once with the added information, Phone 114. So which J.P. had that phone number? Detectives moved into Huntly to arrest the errant J.P.  Post and Telegraph Department records showed Huntly 114 was Joseph Powell’s phone number. He was arrested and though he pleaded not guilty to making bets with a bookie, a jury found him guilty. The moral? Don‘t assume J.P.  always stands for Justice of the Peace. Joseph Powell was entitled to use his initials, even for nefarious operations!  


Eketahuna Waits…

Lack of a J.P. in Eketahuna was called to public notice in March 1889 when the correspondent for the newspaper Wairarapa Daily Times wrote that a man known as “Happy Jack” had been the last occupier of the town’s lock-up, charged with drunkenness. “It’s surprising that a J.P. hasn’t been appointed from residents of this town to attend to such matters” the columnist noted. “The nearest J.P. lives 2 miles away, another one lives 3 miles away - not very convenient when a Justice is required in a hurry. Mind you,” the article continued, “both are very attentive to their duties when called upon, even for the trivial case of trying a drunk. But then, I suppose we will get everything we want to make Eketahuna a paradise when the pigs begin to fly”.  [Nearly 130 years later things have improved with real advance towards the paradise so yearned… there are now 4 J.P.s listed on “Find a JP” as residing in the town]


Trams – or the Bench?  

You could have heard a pin drop during an extremely awkward silence which prevailed for some little time at a Wanganui Borough Council meeting in March 1914. Councillor Fred Harkness had demanded to know why the tramway engineer, a JP, was occupying the bench at the Magistrate's Court on Friday morning instead of attending to his duties at the power-house. Breaking the silence, several councillors expressed regret that the matter had been introduced so publicly, particularly as the engineer often worked overtime. Others thought he should get permission from the Mayor each time he was called to sit on the Bench. The Mayor defended the J.P. but Fred Harkness was unrelenting. “The people of Wanganui pay a high salary yet allow him to spend his time in the service of the Government serving on the Bench. Besides…” he said, “…a borough official should not act as a Justice of the Peace”. The explanation for the engineer’s absence was accepted, Fred Harkness dissenting.


J.P. Called in to Clean Up

Early in 1841 law and order was falling apart in New Zealand’s first organised settlement and the settlers of the fledgling Port Nicholson (Wellington) wanted protection - not from criminals, but from “the outrages of the police establishment". There was plenty of evidence that police were bashing up prisoners in the cells, making dubious arrests, confiscating liquor and bullying those they came in contact with on the streets. The Police Magistrate, Michael Murphy, condoned and contributed to the lawlessness when he declined to hear cases against the police. A packed public meeting asked trusted Justice of the Peace, Dr George Samuel Evans, to take over from Murphy “and clean up the mess”.  And he did, but the “get tough” attitude did not last. It obviously didn’t suit the establishment and within a month a revised list of JPs was issued and Evans’ name had been dropped.  But Murphy retained his warrant and was soon to be appointed Chief Police Magistrate. Dr Evans (Evans Bay is named in his memory) went to Australia where he was a successful politician.

West Coast

JPs find a Sure Cure

The severe winter weather on the Coast in 1877 prompted an advertisement in the daily newspaper “Grey River Argus” which included testimony from several Justices of the Peace. “Cold weather will be the forerunner of indisposition such as rheumatism, sciatica, lumbago, neuralgia, and muscular shifting pains”, the advertisement said. “Ghollah's Great Indian Cures have been pronounced, by numbers of well-known Colonists to be the Wonder of the Nineteenth Century, through the extraordinary cures that have been effected in their own cases by these lndian medicines. Amongst these may be mentioned M. B. Hart, Esq, ex- Mayor of Christchurch, Melville Walker, Esq, J.P., of Lyttelton, John Griffen, Esq, J.P. of Dunedin; and Mr Alex. Mackintosh, of Mackintosh Bay, a very old Colonist and now 76 years of age, who had been suffering from rheumatism for fourteen years, but is now quite cured. See testimonials, and get the medicines off H. Williams, Chemist, wholesale agent for Greymouth, and from all medicine vendors — [Advt]”

He Tangata! Our People

Ric Carlyon - Friday, May 15, 2015

He Tangata! 

200 years of Justice of the Peace  services in New Zealand have relied solely on The People involved, from the very first J.P., missionary Thomas Kendall who showed human weaknesses, to J.P.s who have taken on the Governor, those who sought self praise, and others who themselves fell foul of the law. 

Here are some of their stories - sometimes sad, quirky, humourous, pioneering and treacherous - the full gambit because, in the end, all J.P.s are people, mere mortals…    

Constructive Dismissal
An Auckland Justice of the Peace found there was no way out when, in December 1885, he asked to be excused Judicial duties because of ill-health. “l can continue receiving statutory declarations”, he advised the Minister of Justice, Joseph Tole “but I cannot attend Court”. 

Hon Joseph Tole, Minister of Justice, 1984-7: “I can’t excuse J.P.s from court duties”
The Minister replied “there’s no legal provision for me to exempt any J.P. from the Court roster”, which the New Zealand Herald interpreted, and criticised, as constructive dismissal. In an editorial “The Great Unpaid” the newspaper said to force an incapacitated J.P. to resign in these circumstances is “somewhat a hard measure… and that ways should be found to excuse those who cannot endure prolonged sittings on the Bench”.

Penalty for Non-Attendance
A Justice of the Peace failing to attend to sit on the Bench when rostered was obviously treated seriously in Wellington in the 1880s. Captain Arthur Hume, Inspector of Prisons, was twice warned to attend court but did not. 

         Captain Hume… removed from the list of JPs

Under legislation this meant the Captain automatically ceased to hold the Commission of Peace, the first person in Wellington to be removed from the list of J.P.s for this reason, ineligible for re-appointment for one year. The law was clear; the Governor must act unless Captain Hume had a good reason for his absence.

“No Appearance!” 
On the 18th January 1882 business at Auckland’s Police Court was held up for more than an hour. The Resident Magistrate was unavoidably absent, hearing matters at Onehunga, so several J.P.s had been arranged to preside at Auckland Court. The New Zealand Herald put it this way ….”The justices who were warned to attend did not put in an appearance, and a Court messenger, as a last resource, was sent out to catch the first J.P. he could find”. 

 James Baber, J.P. saved the day.

“After a diligent search”, the newspaper concluded, “he succeeded in capturing Mr Baber, who came to Court and disposed of the business”.

Nil Return
It’s assumed nearly 140 years later that we can still recall Wednesday, the 23rd of May, 1877. The “New Zealand Herald” said at the time that “it’ll be remembered by future generations as a Red Letter Day in the annals of the Auckland Police Court”. In case, meantime, recall’s a bit blunt, here’s the reason. 
At exactly half past ten Mr Albert Beetham, J.P., took the Bench and the Court Orderly was in place beside the witness box. The JP declared the Court in session and gave the nod to begin. “It’s a clean sheet, your worship” said the Clerk. As the Herald reported “…not a single drunkard had been run in, no unfortunate vagrant arrested, no one had ventured to act in opposition to any city by-laws…”
“Considering the size of the city it is creditable to both police and public” the J.P. said, “showing that for one day, at least, the city has been in a state of entire peace”. The Clerk of the Court, answering a question from the Bench, said it was exceedingly rare not to have any cases. Without further ado the Court was declared adjourned.

Expectations of J.P.s in 1887 
The new roll of The Commission of the Peace for the Colony of New Zealand, was published in the Gazette, April 1887 in the form of Letters Patent to which, the seal of the Colony is affixed.
After the list of all Justices of the Peace in the Colony the Letters followed, no small undertaking for those appointed: 
KNOW YE, that We have assigned you and each and every of you, jointly and severally to be our Justices of the Peace in our Colony of New Zealand and its 3 dependencies, to keep and cause to be kept all Laws, Ordinances and Statutes in force within our said colony, to the punishment of offenders, the preservation of the peace, and for the quiet rule, welfare and good government of our people in our said colony to have, exercise, and discharge all powers, authorities, and duties belonging or pertaining to the office of a Justice of the Peace in our said Colony. 
AND THEREFORE We command you and each and every of you, that to keep the peace and all Laws, Ordinances, and Statutes, and all and singular other the premises, you diligently apply yourselves, and that, at certain days and places duly appointed or to be appointed for the purposes, into the premises to make inquiry, and all and singular the premises bear and determine, and perform and fulfil them, doing therein what to justice appertains, according to the law and custom of England and of our said Colony. 
AND WE COMMAND all our Sheriffs in our said colony at certain days and places appointed or to be appointed, to be aiding by all lawful means in the performance and due execution of the premises. In testimony whereof, we have caused these on Letters to be made Patent, and the Seal of our Colony to be hereunto affixed. 
Witness &c, 
Normanby, Governor. 
April 1887.

J.P.s Get the Message… 
Sir Frederick Chapman addressing a meeting of the Auckland Justices of the Peace Association in August, 1926 told JPs “your office should not be treated solely as an honour from the Government, but as an honour with a burden. Great importance had always been attached to the office of all those who had anything to do with the administration of justice. The first duty of a justice is to absorb the idea that it’s a functionary office of the highest importance and that JPs are sworn to administer justice in the right way”. (Sir Frederick was the first New Zealand-born Supreme Court Judge).

And again…
From an editorial in the Evening Post, September 1930: “The main purpose of the Commission of the Peace in New Zealand to-day is not to bestow honour, but to commission a body of men and women who are trustworthy and capable of undertaking the duties of Justices, and who can make it convenient to perform, those duties . Nowadays the accessibility of the proposed Justice is of importance. If he cannot be found when he is wanted or cannot be disturbed, it is little use appointing him”.

J.P.s - “The Great Unpaid and Unafraid”
The newspaper Bay of Plenty Beacon, in August 1934, decided to put matters to right when it reprinted an article from the New Zealand Justices’ Quarterly.  "Some people in New Zealand are of the opinion that Justices of the Peace receive a fee for their services. This is quite erroneous. The position does not carry an honorarium - it is purely an honorary one. If a citizen offered payment for services and it was accepted by a Justice, and this fact was made known to the Minister of Justice, the name of the offending one would he immediately removed from the list of J.P.s. To put it in plain English” the article continued, “the pleasure of serving their fellow citizens - this is a Justice’s treasured reward. We are the ‘great unpaid and unafraid’, as a wise scribe once named us". 

Yeah, Right! 
In a Press cable from London in July 1910 New Zealand Justices of the Peace learned of a change in procedure in Great Britain. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Loreburn, announced “that in future the appointment of JPs will be non-political”. 

Lord Loreburn: earliest UK connection with latter-day ‘Tui philosophy’ 
Smoking in Court
In October 1922 a man whom the Auckland Star referred to as “a very old Auckland J.P.” gave his recollections. The unnamed J.P. said the appointment and swearing-in of J. P.s in the early days was carried out before a Supreme Court judge in a public courtroom. “Generally his Honour indulged in a little homily as to the importance of the office,” he says, “thus the ceremony usually made a deep impression on the newly-sworn”.
“Work on the Bench was much more arduous in the old days,” he continued, “and many of the senior justices were kindly-hearted men, who felt they had to do their duty by fining a wrong doer, then, having vindicated the law, they would pay the fine themselves if the offender was hard up and had no money”.

1920s advertisement for pipe tobacco
The old J.P. was speaking soon after Auckland J.P.s’ Association had been formed: “It struck me as being very incongruous at that meeting in the Courthouse most of the leading men took out their pipes and smoked while discussing various matters. Up went a smoke screen, one could hardly see across the courtroom! Such a thing would have been considered out of place in the old days”. (The wheel has turned full circle!)

Where are the Women J.P.s?
In June 1898 a letter to the editor signed “Only a Woman” appeared in Christchurch’s Press newspaper criticising the way Justices of the Peace handled a charge against the bylaws when a cabbie overcharged a passenger. The case was at first dismissed. “There was surprise at this,” the correspondent said, “because that cabman is somewhat notorious for overcharging and the City Inspector said so in Court. Thereupon said Justices reopen the case, and a fine, carrying costs, was inflicted. I suppose we may presume that the lengthy list of new J.P.s in your to-day's issue of the newspaper will contain about 90 per cent of men whose mental calibre will enable them to deal out justice on the lines of the cabbie’s case. Now, I am not yet in favour of women as Justices of the Peace, but I do think that if women, who are habitually the victims of the avarice of a goodly few of our licensed cabmen (mind, I write of a few, not as a whole), had been sitting on the Bench their judgment would have been to the mark.

Pioneering Women
+ In 1893 Elizabeth Yates, Mayor of Onehunga (who was the first woman elected as mayor in  the British Empire) was a J.P. by virtue of her office. 
+ In December 1926 first women J.P.s were appointed in their own right on 20 December. The 18 appointees included Janet Fraser, Annie McVicar and Elizabeth McCombs who in 1933 would become New Zealand’s first woman MP. 
+ In March 1928 Mrs. L M. C. Jones, of Hamilton, was the first woman in the Waikato to be gazetted a J.P. 
+ 1932 Mrs Rewa Bennett of Auckland was first Maori woman to be made a J.P. in February 1932

 Mary Anderson. J. P.
+ In June 1945 Auckland J.P. Mary Anderson, was reputedly the first woman to sit on the bench as a Magistrate. She had been appointed J.P. in 1943. 

The Grand Jury and the Lash
In 1925 the Auckland Justices of the Peace Association held a meeting to hear two lively debates: ‘Has the Grand Jury outlived its usefulness?’ and ‘Has the time arrived when flogging should be abolished?’ As might be expected of such a gathering, decision was prudently reserved. One speaker said the Grand Jury was protection against eccentric or biased magistrates and against political interference with the administration of justice. While one view was that there are more humane punishments available than flogging, another said it was a corrective, deterrent punishment and anyone who stooped to an offence punishable by the lash deserved to suffer. 

An MP Wearing 2 Hats! 
The story of one Justice of the Peace’s incompetency because of lack of knowledge was told in Wellington in May 1899 by Member of Parliament, John Hutcheson. “The JP was sitting on the Bench for the first time and did not know what was required of him when dealing with a dipsomaniac (one who has an irresistible craving for alcoholic drink). The JP had to be helped by the Clerk of the Court when it came time to decide sentence. The JP afterwards thought he should know the finer points of his responsibilities, so asked for help from the Justice Department. The reply was that the Government Printer had the book that the JP sought and could be purchased for 15 shillings! 
The JP thought it preposterous that he had to pay for the book out of his own pocket and sent in his resignation as a protest against the haphazard way of doing things and not giving Justices an opportunity of making themselves, to some extent at least, fit for their position”. 
At this point MP Hutcheson revealed that he was the J.P. concerned. 
“The Minister suppressed my resignation,” he said, “it has not been gazetted but my action has had one good result.  Every Justice of the Peace is now supplied with a copy of Mr Haselden's book, “New Zealand Justice of the Peace”, specially compiled for their guidance”.

Can’t Wear Two Hats  #1
Seventeen informations laid by the Borough Council Ranger in Stratford Court in July 1907 did not get very far when it was discovered the presiding JP was also a Borough Councillor. The JP was disqualified from adjudicating: the charges were dismissed.

Can’t Wear Two Hats  #2
A case of illicit use of a garden hose, contrary to a by-law, was thrown out when it came before the Ashburton Magistrate’s Court in 1939. The Borough Inspector had arranged for a Justice of the Peace to sign the summonses. But the Magistrate spotted the fact that the J.P. was also an elected Borough Councillor. “The summonses are illegal…” he ruled “…as the J.P. is a member of the body which benefits from the penalties imposed”. It was said to be only the second time that these circumstances had arisen in New Zealand.

J.P.s as Secret Military Strategists 
In November 1868 Auckland Justices of the Peace watched the deteriorating native troubles in Waikato and, putting aside judicial and ministerial affairs, took on the role of military strategists to formulate their own solution to the conflict. At a closed meeting the J.P.s resolved to advise both the Governor and Commanding Officer to send the 18th Regiment at once to Ngaruawahia and to seek further reinforcements from England. 

Governor George Bowen: Auckland JPs gave him military advice
The New Zealand Herald at first castigated the J.P.s for meeting in private saying “…they were public men met upon a public matter of very serious import to us all…”, but then went on to agree with the J.P.s’ proposition. “Send these men (the 18th) to Ngaruawahia”, the Herald implored, “…we write as knowing the urgency of the need to defend Waikato”.

J.P.s vs the Chief Justice! 
Several Wellington J.P.s were among Wellington townsfolk who signed a petition criticising the Chief Justice. In March 1843 William Fox (Inner Temple) appeared before the Chief Justice asking to be admitted to the bar. During the ceremony the Chief Justice asked Mr Fox to swear an oath that Fox believed degrading: a grumpy exchange with the bench followed and admittance to the bar was refused. About 70 leading citizens, including eight J.P.s, immediately petitioned the Chief Justice pointing out the Oath was without precedent, anywhere, and that it should be altered. His Honour was not moved: Mr Fox concentrated on his journalism and interest in the New Zealand Company, which he led for a time before entering politics. 

 William Fox who endured a grumpy exchange with the Chief Justice
Rt Hon Sir William Fox, KCMG, was 4 times Premier of New Zealand. Foxton is named after him. In retirement he sat as a J.P. in the Auckland Court. 

JPs vs Governor
It wasn’t only the Chief Justice, Mr Fox, that J.P.s took on. In August 1849 Wellington J.P.s unhesitatingly spoke out against the Governor himself, together with townsfolk of the NZ Land Company settlement. They severely criticised Sir George Grey’s “postponement of introducing representative government in New Zealand”. 

 Sir George Grey: criticised by JPs, NZ Land Company settlers
Five JPs led a group of a dozen other leading citizens attacking the Governor’s delays, his lack of candour and good faith, and his “utter untrustworthiness” in his dispatches to London. The testy colonists signed and delivered a series of 12 resolutions pointing out the error Sir George’s ways.  (The wrangle between Wellington colonists, in particular, began in 1839 and continued until 1852 when an Act providing self-government took effect). 

114 Convictions and not out! 
In the late 1880s Sir William Fox was on the J.P.’s roster for the Auckland Court. His sentencing regularly came to notice when he was dealing with those accused of drunkenness. In August 1888 newspapers, under the heading “Magisterial Fads” were saying it was time the Department of Justice took account of this J.P.’s “extraordinary conduct… … inflicting the maximum penalties on all offenders against sobriety. It is a most dangerous precedent to establish that a judicial officer is to administer the law for the gratification of his own individual fads, (abstinence), instead of according to the merits of the case before him”. 
Undeterred, Sir William carried on his one-man campaign against excessive drinking and 2 years later newspapers were again criticising his courtroom manner. “Where did you get the drink?” was his favourite question to each of the accused, most of whom had bad memories or said they were too drunk at the time to remember. Sir William was looking for information so he could take action against publicans who continue serving patrons already under the influence. 
+ Some Relief
In one session in August 1888 he fined all who came before him the maximum – 1 pound for first offenders and 3 pounds for re-offenders. All, that is, except one old man. “With 114 convictions you’re a hopeless case,” said Sir William Fox, J.P., “and instead of a lengthy prison term it’ll be a fine of 3 pounds”.
In late 1888 Sir William answered his critics - “… it is clemency in the cases before me to give the   severest penalty, in the hope of deterring offenders in the future. My private opinion is that no punishment, however severe, ever has or ever will cure a drunkard but when I find myself on the Bench I put away my own opinions as to the inefficiency of punishment of drunkards, and simply carry out the law as I find it… a very foolish law, as I think it…” 
+ Popular Cause 
Sir William found he had many followers in the various temperance groups. 
In 1890 the Auckland Star printed a Letter to the Editor recalling a recent larceny case, a man who stole a shirt and pleaded guilty before Sir William. “Where did you get the drink?” the J.P. immediately asked. The prisoner stared, dumb, into space until, as the correspondent put it, “it occurred to the good Knight that larceny was not drunkenness and that a man could steal a shirt while perfectly sober!” 
+ Dispensation Sought
In 1891 such was Sir William’s reputation that on one occasion when a lawyer found Sir William was on the Bench he asked, on behalf of his client, for an adjournment to another date. The case involved liquor. This request resulted in an animated scene in the courtroom with Sir William insisting he would hear the matter. The hearing proceeded: the case was dismissed on a technicality. 
In the same year the newspaper Observer noted that Queensland had introduced laws forbidding any J.P. who was a member of any temperance organisation, or a publican, to sit on the bench while deciding offences involving intoxication or for licensing matters. Southland introduced a similar restriction in 1864.

Pernicious Pursuits Unchecked
Music, song and dance was commonplace in Auckland licensed public houses in the late 1860s: activities frowned on by churchmen and other upright citizens. “Already a number of unfortunate girls have been deluded by the temptations of these places, and then fallen from bad to worse until at last they have become prostitutes” they said, “ these singing and dancing assemblies have the  most pernicious effect upon the moral character of many of the inhabitants of this city”. 

How come so many bars in the town echoed to the bawdy music when it was illegal for publicans to allow singing or dancing in their premises?  The exception was for a special occasion and only after permission had been given by the Bench, usually Justices of the Peace presiding. 
14 Justices of the Peace attended Court on 25th May 1868 to consider concerns surrounding the issue of permits and allegations by city fathers of the spread of this bawdy entertainment.

Thames Hotel, corner of Queen and Customs Streets.
Licensed to sell liquor - and to hold musical evenings
One of the J.P.s, it turned out, had signed many permits. One afternoon he dealt with a sheaf of applications, presented at the conclusion of Court business by a man whom it was said “is paid half a crown a week to procure these licences”. Under questioning the J.P. concerned said “I signed them all without first reading them - I didn’t know these were applications, I believed the documents to be another matter altogether!”  One disbelieving wit among the J.P.s called out “why, the J.P. believes good music is better than bad rum”.  Another - “the only cause that I have heard against the J.P.’s conduct is that he is an old man and that he should therefore be allowed to get on with his eccentricities”.  A censure motion against the J.P. concerned was not put to the meeting but within weeks it was noted there was a reduction in the number of approvals for music in Auckland’s public houses. 

The Latest Reading, 1864
John Varty’s, the bookshop in Canada Buildings, Queen Street, Auckland, boasted the widest selection in their “Catalogue in the latest novelties in literature” advertised in the New Zealand Herald, July 1864. “We also sell games, latest puzzles and most popular volumes of the day”. And to prove it there are columns of book titles advertised, including “Hymns for the Household”, “Hardies Portfolio of Views from Home and Abroad”, Buckle’s History of Civilisation in England”,  “An Astronomer’s Experiments”, “Causes of the Present Anarchy in New Zealand” by Captain Johnstone, and… just what every J.P. should purchase and  keep handy -  Thomas James Arnold's “Duties of a Justice of the Peace”.   

 James Arnold, British Barrister, wrote several books to assist J.P.s 

The On-Again, Off-Again J.P.!
Several southern newspapers in early 1870 announced that former MP Edmund Barff had been made a J.P. But it turned out the announcement was somewhat premature. When, some months later, the Press began enquiring as to when the official communique would be issued, it was revealed that the initial report had been the result of a leak… probably Mr Barff confided in a few close friends about his pending appointment and word got out. The leak prompted complaints about him being a J.P. and there were delays with “process” inside Government despite the Prime Minister’s approval. “It’s reward for Barff’s political services, for such steady support in Westland throughout the parliamentary session” was how one newspaper saw the proposal. The failure to gazette Barff’s appointment was blamed on “Ministerial difficulties” (perhaps read Ministerial differences, probably between Prime Minister Stafford, Minister John Hall and the Minister of Justice). Other reports, equally prominent at the time, claimed Mr Barff had not sought the position of J.P., had not expected it, nor had agreed to it, so there could not possibly have been differences in Cabinet about his appointment: it was merely a mischievous scandal and Mr Barff had been dragged through the mud in order to gratify the spite of a newspaper against the Government!”  

The Motor Car Makes its Debut in Court 
Justices of the Peace sitting in Gore in December 1905 dealt with one of the first cases to come before the bench involving a motor car. There had been a collision in the main street between a horse-and-trap and a motor car… Mrs Winsloe, a passenger in the car, was killed… while the driver of the trap, John L. Whittingham, was charged with manslaughter. Messres J. S. Beattie and James Millar, J.P.s, considered the lengthy evidence given at the inquest and heard from defendant’s counsel Alfred Hanlon, a well-known and highly successful criminal lawyer of the time. The J.P.s found no evidence of recklessness on the part of the accused who was discharged.    

Baptised Under False Pretences!  
The 1934 meeting of the Christchurch Presbytery was advised that a Justice of the Peace had baptised a child in Canterbury back-country. The report stated that the J.P. had been acting under a provision allowing him to conduct baptisms when no minister of the church was available. The Clerk of the Assembly enquired, but could find no such legal provision. 

Damning Criticism of J.P.s 
In 1869 there were proposals to tighten Civil Service Estimates. A reduction in the number of Resident Magistrates was suggested as one way to save money. 

The “Otago Witness” newspaper - later “The Otago Daily Times” - was critical of any cutbacks but then went on to say that in the present climate they were unlikely to go ahead because of widespread dissatisfaction with the Justices of the Peace on the bench.  Resident Magistrates were much preferred. 
In scathing criticism in its pages of 12th October, the newspaper quoted recent discussions in the Legislative Council where almost every speaker condemned the administration of justice by J.P.s. The newspaper saw fit to preface quotes from the Hon. Dr James Menzies with the introductory phrase,  “With obvious truth….” and went on to say that “competent and qualified Justices would do their duty more cheerfully and zealously if the Government paid regard to the fitness of those whom it appointed, as regards education, character, and social antecedents”. 

Dr James Menzies who wanted a better class of JPs
The Hon. Col. Whitmore concurred, saying “I know others also feel some dissatisfaction with the manner in which the appointments to the Commission of the Peace (J.P.s) are made in this country. Where I come from there are well-grounded complaints on the part of my brother Justices that there are persons on the Bench who neither do their duty nor are fit to do it”. 
“Otago Witness” then gave considerable space for the comments of Hon. Henry Sewell. 

Henry Sewell - found it difficult to find suitable people to be ideal JPs
“All Governments”, he said “including those of which I have been a member, have been influenced in the appointment of J.P.s by considerations other than those which should properly influence a Government in the selection of these officers, occasionally placing on the Bench persons who are not qualified to be there. The difficulties of finding gentlemen who are both suitable to fill the appointment, and ready to sacrifice their time to the somewhat onerous duties, are almost insuperable. It is a mere burlesque upon justice to see it administered by those who are notoriously guilty of the same crime for which they inflict a penalty… this sort of judicial farce is not infrequently enacted in the absence of the Resident Magistrate. It only remains for our courts to be handed over to an unpaid judiciary to see the same outrage upon all decency repeated again and again”.
The “Otago Witness” article concluded in the hope that the civil service costs would not be trimmed at the expense of employment of Resident Magistrates… “no economy could be less justifiable than that which would eventually destroy the respect which should be paid to courts of law”.

J.P. Stands For? 
In 1922 there was a challenge in Court about the way a Wanganui J.P. signed a deed. Thomas McDonnell concluded his part of the documentation with the sign-off “Thomas McDonnell, J.P., Wanganui”. The question was whether the sign-off was sufficient. While “J.P., Wanganui” was enough to spell out his residence, it was contended it fell short of stating the J.P.’s position, employment or office.  Chief Justice Sir Robert Stout: “I rule out this contention, I shall assume J.P. stands for Justice of the Peace and this is sufficient identification of the attesting witness: the deed cannot be set aside on this ground”.   

Mass Outwits the Force!
Senior Sergeant Rawle, prosecutor in the Police Court in October 1921 just had to ask the question: "Why did you knock Inspector Eales down?”  
He was questioning S. Turkington, a Justice of the Peace, charged before Mr. J. W. Poynton, S.M., with having driven his car dangerously from Fort Street into Queen Street. 
Joseph Poynton, S.M. as sketched for Truth in 1915
“Well, speak up, why did you run into the Inspector?” 
“I hit him to avoid some other pedestrians." replied the defendant.
"So that to get one on to the police you deliberately crossed from the left side to the wrong side of the road and ran down the police inspector", rejoined the Senior Sergeant with a smile. 
Later in the case Inspector Eales gave evidence – “the defendant's motor-car knocked me down and pushed me along for several yards. It must have been a poor climber not to get over me - it certainly tried hard enough, but failed. It was a poor sample of a car”. 
"And a good sample of an inspector!" returned lawyer Mr. Dickson, while Joseph Poynton, S.M.  glanced up at the Inspector's sturdy physique, and smiled. “It’ll be a fine of £5!” he announced.

Prying Strikes a Nerve
There must have been some very sensitive business documents being witnessed in Napier in 1915 and some local captains of commerce didn’t like J.P.s perusing the papers that they were being asked to sign. Napier’s representative at the Chambers of Commerce Conference told delegates, “This prying is detrimental to the public good. The Minister of Justice has told us perusal is a matter for each J.P.’s discretion”. Most speakers defended Justices of the Peace: the discussion ended abruptly when Feilding’s delegate (a J.P.?) told the gathering, “the law is clear - Justices of the Peace must peruse documents they are called on to sign”.   

J.P.’s Glowing Recommendation 
This message, syndicated to many newspapers throughout New Zealand in late 1899, appeared as an article or in the Letters to the Editor column.
“Picton, New Zealand, September 18, 1899- “I have much pleasure in recommending Chamberlain's Cough Remedy. I have used it whenever necessary during the last few years, and have always found it gives immediate relief. It always breaks up a cough or cold, and experience has taught me that to obtain a speedy cure is to commence taking Chamberlain's Cough Remedy at the very commencement of a cold. I always keep a bottle of it in the house. Yours faithfully, J. Blizzard, J.P., Town Clerk”

Chamberlain’s products, personally recommended by a prominent JP
(Jabez Blizzard was Picton’s Town Clerk for some 37 years from 1897, and a J.P. His endorsement was often followed by the name of the local pharmacy that stocked the fine product, “… price one shilling and sixpence - three shillings for the large bottle”).

J.P. Accused
In 1897 a Balclutha J.P. was accused of “spiriting away” key witnesses. It was an appropriate way of describing the disappearances because it was a sly-grog case, one of selling alcohol without a licence. When the matter was called in Court the police prosecutor surprised Magistrate Hawkins when he advised “I have no alternative but to withdraw the charges against John McCorley and two family members because the principal witnesses have disappeared. A Justice of the Peace was instrumental in this – the men have been spirited away, gone,” Inspector Pardy told the Court. 

 Inspector William Pardy: ”a JP was responsible for the missing witnesses”
“Well, Inspector, I hope you don’t allow matters to remain as now, it’s one of the most serious matters of this kind I have ever heard,” the Magistrate said “I’m going to allow the charges to be withdrawn but I expect follow-up inquiries”. 
And Pardy was just the officer for the task – he had built up a reputation as a thinking and persistent detective, including the arrest of Te Whiti in the “second siege of Parihaka”.  

A Secret Court
In May 1889 the New Zealand Herald reported on a court hearing which had taken place in Auckland some seven months before. Word about the case was delayed, the Herald said, because proceedings had been held in secret and it's only just come to notice. Two Justices of the Peace presided in the Police Court to decide the case of a young man charged with theft from his employer. The Herald labelled it an extraordinary case because:
+ The hearing was unscheduled, held after usual sittings of the day had concluded
+ It was virtually a private sitting of the Court
+ The JPs who sat were not rostered, but had been urgently pressed to sit on the Bench
+ There were no reporters present
+ The proceedings were kept quiet, “in camera”. 
+ Police acquiesced to the arrangements 
The Herald said that the boy’s father had approached two J.P.s mid-afternoon asking them to sit at once, so they went to the Police Court after other proceedings had been completed. With connivance of the willing JPs and accommodating police, there was a hearing. 
Police Inspector Thomas Broham: “Your Worships, this is a case where a young man has been arrested, but the complainant, Mr. Trafford, does not wish to prosecute”.
J.P.: “What are the circumstances of the case?”
Inspector Broham: “This young man has embezzled one pound of Mr. Trafford's money, and Mr. Trafford does not wish to prosecute.' 
J.P.: “Is that so, Mr. Trafford?" 
Trafford: “Yes, if he will make an apology”.
J.P.: “Mr Trafford, we must have no qualifications in this matter. Do you prosecute, or do you not"'' 
Mr. Trafford: “Then, I do not”
Inspector Broham: “As Mr. Trafford does not wish to prosecute, we cannot, of course, press the case”
J.P.: “The case is therefore dismissed" 

Inspector Broham: by 1899 he was NZ’s senior career police officer  

The Herald article continued - “What we wish to direct attention to specially is the extraordinary conduct of the Justices and the police. If a poor lad had been arrested for theft at half-past three o'clock in the afternoon, no Court would have sat for him. He would have had to come up next morning at the ordinary sitting of the Court, and full publicity would have been given to the case. Was the holding of a sitting late in the afternoon, long after the Court had closed, for the purpose of concealing the affair? We venture to say, that if the case had been brought up in a public Court neither the Magistrates nor the police would have dared to act as they did”.
Matters were further compounded if other newspaper reports were correct: that the father of the accused was later blackmailed. 
The Minister of Justice ordered an enquiry into the Herald’s allegations. 

Military Duties
J.P.s’ duties in the late 1880s included deciding disciplinary matters within the New Zealand Volunteer Forces. These powers came to light when the Captain of the Gisborne Battery appealed against a lower court decision that he did not have the legal right to fine a volunteer who was absent from parade. The Supreme Court ruled that, as per the Volunteer Act, “Commanding Officers are the prosecutors; the jurisdiction to adjudicate is given, alone, to Justices of the Peace.    

Struck Off: A Sensation 
An Auckland Justice of the Peace was struck off in 1886, the circumstances providing sensational newspaper headlines. William Powell, J.P., kept a chemist’s shop in Karangahape Road and befriended a destitute widow receiving charity. It was alleged that he had used his position as a J.P., and his personal influence, for the “purpose of gross oppression”. In other words he was bothering the women seeking sexual relations: she was repeatedly repelling his advances. Spurned, Powell wrote fictitious letters to the Benevolent Society, charging the woman with admitting men to her house at all hours of the night. One of the letters he signed as a woman named Morgan, and the other as a man named Thompson. The widow was refused financial assistance for a time, but once she made a statement that Powell, J.P., had made improper proposals to her, enquiries soon discovered the whole unfortunate scenario. The Minister of Justice, Joseph Tole, invited Powell to resign but he declined to do so. After interviewing the J.P. the Minister said “this man is not a proper person to be clothed with the Commission of the Peace” and the next Gazette, December 1886, advised that the Governor-General had removed Powell’s name from the list. 

 Downstairs was the pharmacy:
police were interested in what had happened above the shop…

Powell was back in Court in 1892, this time as an accused in the dock, and, again, making newspaper headlines. He was charged with using instruments to procure an abortion. Ironically, Joseph Tole, the Minister who recommended his removal as a J.P., had by this time left politics and become Auckland’s Crown Prosecutor. He led the case against Powell who was found guilty and imprisoned for 10 years. 

The “Justiciary” 
In 1915 there was a new word to describe Justices of the Peace. Wellington’s Evening Post newspaper used the term “Justiciary” in an article referring to J.P.s generally. Justiciary did not catch on as a collective of J.P.s, though the word survives in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary meaning “administrator of justice”.

Assaulted a J.P.
In Paeroa in 1908 a local man, John Wall, was issued with a summons by the town’s policeman. This immediately excited Wall who set out to deal with the person he thought was responsible for the document. Joseph Nathan the local J.P. had signed it, so Wall went to his office in the township and, finding Mr Nathan at his desk, began venting his anger ultimately striking the J.P. with a clenched fist, pushing him off his chair on to the floor. This had a sequel in Court when Wall pleaded guilty to assault, though denied using a clenched fist. “My client is an excitable man”, Wall’s lawyer told the Court “and when he saw the J.P.’s signature he mistakenly thought Mr Nathan had summonsed him”. “I’m glad I didn’t sign the Summons, then” said the Magistrate, “and I take a much more serious view of this, being an assault on a Justice of the Peace in connection with carrying out his duties. Fined 3 pounds, costs 1 pound one shilling, in default 21 days’ imprisonment”. 

An Abusive Drunk
During industrial disputes on the waterfront in 1890, William Barnes, a fireman on the SS Arawa, appeared in the Lyttelton Court charged with assaulting a free labourer. Justice of the Peace, Adam Chalmers, fined Barnes 5 pounds. A few days later Barnes spotted the J.P. on Norwich Quay in Lyttelton, and according to police, “went straight for Mr Chalmers, his fist raised in a threatening manner… while using abusive language in regard to the sentence that the J.P. had handed down”. 
Barnes denied all knowledge of the offences against Chalmers, saying he was drunk at the time and was now throwing himself on the mercy of the Court.  

SS Arawa, left Lyttelton at least one man short
But Mr B. Beetham, Stipendiary Magistrate, told Barnes “there can be no leniency. If Justices of the Peace are to be grossly insulted by men whom they had administered the law to, it will be an end to law and order. Making remarks like this to a man doing his public duty is far worse than abusing a private citizen. I note you are liable to 12 months’ imprisonment. You are sentenced to one month’s jail with hard labour”. 

Respected Identity Stripped of Public Office
There was public outcry throughout Taranaki, and beyond, in 1894 when well-known pioneering resident, Major Charles Brown, was removed from both the list of J.P.s and licensed Native Interpreters. Government Ministers said he had signed a declaration by a Maori woman, interpreted to her by Major Brown, that she had received 40 pounds, whereas she had only received 20 pounds, and, therefore, the declaration was false. 

 Major C. Brown - public support backed his reinstatement

Public meetings solidly backed the Major, seeking his re-instatement. Newspaper editorials criticised the Ministers’ actions, saying politics had entered the matter… the Evening Post - “The public can form its own conclusions as to which side truth, honesty, and justice are to be found on”. 
The Major’s supporters reminded politicians of the colonist’s record -  twice Superintendent of the Province, twice Colonial Treasurer, four times a member of the House of Representatives, agent for the Government in difficult times and Commander of the Brigade in war time. He founded the daily newspaper, Taranaki News. Brown, they also pointed out, arguably saved the massacre of all 66 crew and passengers of the General Worsley when in 1862 it was wrecked on the Taranaki coast, aground on the shoreline in territory occupied at the time by hostile, warring, Maoris. Against encouragement from his superiors, Brown refused permission for soldiers to intervene in a rescue fearing it would be seen by the natives as provocation with possible retribution too horrid to contemplate. As it was the ship’s Captain and others negotiated with Maori, a peaceful exit was arranged in return for salvaging the ship and its contents: everyone survived.
Now Charles Brown, aged 74, had been stripped of his public offices. Despite widespread sympathy in the community he was not reinstated as a J.P., but went on interpreting in Law Courts. At the end of one such session in September 1901 he was crossing the railway line in Devon Street, New Plymouth, and was struck and killed by the 4pm train to Hawera.

Justices’ Neglect?
JPs in Hokitika took a scolding in the local newspaper, “West Coast Times and Observer”, in April 1896 when their behaviour was labelled “disgraceful” and “indifferent”.  The newspaper said “it is extraordinary, with some half-dozen gentlemen in the town holding Commissions of the Peace (JPs) that, in case of emergency, a Bench cannot be gathered together to transact the business of the Court”.  The Resident Magistrate fell ill and all matters were adjourned a day.
Editorial’s criticism of JPs was possibly mis-directed in the newspaper 

“If JPs simply wear the honour, without caring to do any of the work attached,” the newspaper continued, “the sooner they resign the better, and the Ministry would then appoint others in their stead who would be willing to fulfill the duties of the office. Court business should not  be postponed for a day because a number of gentlemen, living within a few hundred yards of the Court, are too indifferent to attend when the occasion arises”.
One of the town’s JPs replied to the article saying the Clerk of the Court had adjourned proceedings as he had been directed and that JPs could hardly turn up if they were not advised. The article, the writer maintained, had thus maligned JPs.
The Editor replied saying if the JPs weren’t warned of the magistrate’s illness they should have been. The unfortunate woman Hardman was dragged up and down on three occasions before her case was decided, whereas common humanity should have directed the disposal of her miserable matter at once”. [Mary Ann Hardman later pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to a charge of attempted suicide. She was bound over to keep the peace]

“God save the Magi Streets”
In a letter to the editor of the Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 1 March 1851, correspondent A. Specktatur mockingly gives an eye witness account of a grand dinner in Nelson attended by the Governor. In a post- script to his letter, A. Specktatur, beats by about 160 years the present i-phone “text-speak” but does not forget the Bench, the “Magi Streets”, in his entreaty. 

P.S. God save the Kwene, hand Prins Halberd, hand the Prins of Whales, hand the Guvnur, hand the Live Tenant Guvnur. N.B. Hand the Majur, hand the Fishalls, hand the Magi Streets, hand hall the KunStables, ...and hall the respectabul marred Peepul, hand there Wives, hand there Suns, hand there Dawturs, hand Owld Tom, hand Yourself…  A. Specktatur.

Loose translation: 

God save the Queen and Prince Albert and the Prince of Wales and the governor and
the Lieutenant- Governor. N.B. And the Major and the Officials and the Magistrates and all
the Constables… and all the respectable married people and their wives and their sons,
and their daughters and old Tom and yourself….. A. Spectator

Ruffled Feathers
Frank Bird, J.P. and Warden on the West Coast, was removed from the list in September 1890 after suing a local journalist for libel. The Minister of Justice took exception to this and other matters, also claiming Bird was embarrassed financially and sought the J.P.’s resignation. Bird refused to relinquish any of his public offices so the Governor-General acted. Frank Bird’s letter to the editor was published in the Evening Post on 22 September 1890, seeking compensation and a copy of the full report from the Inquiry into his dismissal. “We sometimes shudder at the treatment of official officers and others in Russia, but, Sir, there is no need to leave New Zealand to find cases of equal injustice” he wrote, “my character has been blackened but I served the Government faithfully, truthfully… … without fear or favour, malice, or ill-will”. He subsequently set up business in Westport as a mining and commission agent.     

Judicial Rebuke 
J.P.s were admonished by a Supreme Court Judge at Auckland in March 1933 when he was obliged to dismiss charges against two men. In both cases, one from Whangarei, the other from Coromandel, J.P.s and Court Clerks had overlooked vital paper work in Court documents. Mr Justice Smith ruled he had no authority to deal with the men and asked J.P.s and Clerks to be sure in future to complete formalities. “I have no option but to release these men,” His Honour said. They were re-arrested as they left the courtroom.   

“Give Judgement – and Shut Up”
That was the advice given to JPs in 1929 by the Minister of Justice, Hon. Thomas Wilford.
”One or two JPs on the bench have made mistakes lately.  I have had representations made to me from different parts of the Dominion regarding palpable, but honest, mistakes and I have given this advice to every JP I have known and met personally:—'Give your judgment, which will probably be right, but don't make public your reasons for it, which may very often be wrong. 
Truth’s sketch of Hon Thomas (later Sir Thomas) Wilford, M.P.
Usually I find that a Justice has weighed the evidence correctly and come to the right decision but then has made remarks so controversial that one wonders if he has really came to the right decision or not". 

J.P.s Being Eased Out 
There was a special address from the bench after the regular sitting of the Court in Dunedin one Saturday morning in June 1900. The two rostered J.P.s vacated the bench and F. Mallard, J.P., took over to publicise the case of restrictions placed on J.P.s, reducing their appearances on the Bench. For months J.P.s had been rostered on the less-popular Saturday mornings, but on no other days of the week. Mr Mallard objected, saying if J.P.s were good enough to sit on Saturdays they should also be rostered on other days.  Conversely, Mr Mallard mooted, if they weren’t good enough for weekday duties they ought not be presiding on Saturdays. “We have the right to sit in any Court at any time and I have a letter from the Minister of Justice to this effect. He is unaware of any abrogation of J.P. duties in Dunedin. We have a perfect right to sit here in our own court and adjudicate on all matters except those reserved under the law for (paid) magistrates”. 

The Visiting Justice
JPs have for many years been Visiting Justices to hear cases in penal institutions, but in October 1890 C. La Roche, JP, had the task of hearing charges against 22 Maori arrested after problems in Te Kuiti – a case made famous by intense interest by the Press, resulting in headlines in nation-wide  newspapers for weeks. Followers of the self-claimed prophet, Te Mahuki, had been on the rampage in the King Country and had been arrested and transported to Auckland. Mr La Roche presided in Mount Eden Gaol’s chapel “in order to save trouble with the transit of defendants”. 

The Observer newspaper sketch of Te Mahuki
The charge against all 22 of forcible entry (of stores) was withdrawn, replaced by an allegation of disturbing the peace. Each was charged “with consorting with other evil-disposed persons in unlawfully, riotously, and riotously assembling and gathering together to disturb the public peace, and unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously making a great noise, riot, tumult, and disturbance, to the great terror and disturbance of Her Majesty's subjects, there being and residing, passing and repassing, and with further unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assaulting two Europeans, and did then there beat, wound, and ill-treat them against the peace of our Lady the Queen, her Crown and dignity”.
A later Supreme Court hearing found all but one of the men guilty and they were sentenced to terms of imprisonment.

“Humiliating, distasteful, confounding Hum Bug…” 
JPs were part of the control on the sale of explosives in years gone by... procedure decried by “Somerset” in his letter to the editor of the New Zealand Herald in August 1866. 
“I really do think the regulations to be most unmitigated humbug. I go to a most respectable licensed shopkeeper to buy four pounds of blasting powder to blast timber for fencing and I am told that I must fill out a paper. Well, all right, that matter over; but where is the powder? “Uh, you will require to get the permission signed by a Justice of the Peace”. All right, I know plenty, and off I go. But my friend the shopkeeper seizes the moment to remind me that unless I am personally known to Mr. Andrews, of Her Majesty's Customs, I shall require the signature also of a respectable shopkeeper that knows me, as well as the J.P. 

 Detonating plunger: but first get permission to buy your blasting powder
But being an old hand, I fortunately know Mr. Andrews. This being the case, and having obtained the signature of J. S. Macfarlane, Esq., J. P., (see below for Macfarlane’s background) and paid the Customs one shilling. I was then given a document privileging me to purchase my blasting powder. 
Sir, unless we get a better system entirely for the management of our own affairs, we shall not only drive away Capitalists, but shall thoroughly disgust the most respectable merchants by the most confounded petty-fogging humbug practised on this community day after day, that is most distasteful and humiliating to any class of men that have any pretentions to intelligence.—l am, &c, Somerset

The JP who Signed the Docket… and Did Much, Much More 
It was John Sangster Macfarlane who signed the docket enabling the purchase of explosives. (see above). 

 John Sangster Macfarlane, J.P. 
He was a Scot who made his way via Sydney to New Zealand in 1844, a colourful personality, an early merchant in Auckland, a member of parliament and formerly a sea captain and owner of trading vessels (Henderson and Macfarlane Limited’s The Circular Saw Line). He also owned successful racehorses taking out some of the richest events in the country. He was involved in early Auckland’s rope and soap manufacture and later served as Director on the Boards of many burgeoning local companies. He was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1854.  A champion of steam, Macfarlane operated coal-powered ships on the coast and gave Thames goldfields their first railway. He was frequently embroiled in litigation: civil, commercial and electoral matters. He countered criticism (he called it libel) in the Auckland Star by starting his own, rival, newspaper, The Echo.  Both newspapers had a ding-dong go at each other with no mercy in their columns until November 1875 when The Echo, failing financially, was snapped up by the Star, bought out as a going concern. The Star continued publishing it as The Echo, cleverly and gloatingly using its pages for a few days as a platform to boast its victory over the revengeful opposition led by Macfarlane. Pay-back exacted, The Echo was then closed down.

 The Auckland Star, late 1875, acknowledging in its masthead the takeover of The Echo

For some years in the early 1870s Macfarlane had been involved with litigation regarding sawmilling and land rights on the Coromandel, with Maori and the Harris families. Macfarlane faced the serious accusation that during these altercations he had incited one sawmill owner to murder another. 
In July 1871 Macfarlane wrote to the Colonial Secretary, William Gisborne, resigning as a JP. He had publicly disagreed with the findings made in Court on several personal matters he was involved with  (not as a JP) and told the Minister his resignation was “to avoid the possibility of being a party to the unfair administration in the Courts here, I beg you to strike my name off the list of Magistrates…”
The Minister declined to accept the resignation, asking Macfarlane to reconsider. 
Macfarlane thanked the Minister for his invitation, took the opportunity to go into much detail of the judgments he felt unjust and said his desire to resign remained. “I feel sure I am acting correctly  in refusing to be a party to the administration or maladministration of justice,” he concluded, “should, however, it be my good fortune to outlive this lamentable state of matters, I may possibly do myself the honour to solicit the Government to restore my name to the Commission of Peace”.
Macfarlane was advised in early September 1871 that his resignation had been accepted.   
He died in 1880, as the New Zealand Herald aptly put it of the litigious gentleman, “… he has now himself passed away to the final Court of Appeal at the age of 62”. 

The J.P. and the “Indecent” Pictures 
A J.P. gave evidence as an expert witness in a celebrated case in Auckland in 1906 when two Karangahape Road art gallery owners were charged with selling indecent pictures… Frederick Leighton’s “The Bath of Psyche” (1879) and Frederick Thumann’s “Psyche at Nature’s Mirror” (1893). 
For the prosecution, police mustered an array of horrified, shocked and indignant witnesses, members of church groups and social workers who all submitted that viewing the pictures in the shop windows along Karangahape Road was bad for public morals, particularly young people.
The hearing generated interest in newspapers throughout New Zealand with the over-riding question “When is art indecent?” The defence called a wide variety of experts to say that nothing in the pictures, women - partly-nude figures - could be held indecent: indeed, most said it was the human body in its most natural and finest form.

 Frederick Thumann’s “Psyche at Nature’s Mirror” (1893)
These witnesses included a school headmaster, art critics, gallery owners, a journalist, a lawyer… and another introduced as a Justice of the Peace, a married man with several grown-up daughters. “I do not think the pictures are indecent… it would be a good thing if they were exhibited more”. He admitted, however, he would not send such a postcard to a young girl. Magistrate, Mr Kettle: “Why not?” “I don’t know. Perhaps I am too old. (Laughter) But I have seen ladies painting pictures in the public galleries at Florence which were a good deal worse than these. Why, I have a worse one hanging up in my own drawing-room”. After the lengthy hearing Mr Kettle found the gallery owners not guilty. Sensing something of a test case he gave a reserved, fulsome, decision… “There is an entire absence of impure suggestions, nothing lewd, obscene, indecent, scandalous, or lascivious in the attitude and posture, nothing offensive to decency and good morals. The picture is not, to use the words of the statute, ‘intended to have an indecent, immoral, or obscene effect’”
(I wonder what Mr Kettle would think of modern-day, up-beat, Karangahape Road!) 

Opposition to J.P.s
In 1933 the Minister of Justice, John George Cobbe, caused controversy in Auckland when he announced that Justices of the Peace would be used more frequently on the bench in Magistrate’s Courts. The Auckland Star, 9th June 1933, said the proposal was condemned by many in the justice system. “It’s fraught with dangerous complications” said former magistrate and J.P., E. C. Blomfield, ”there’ll inevitably be a stream of appeals against their decisions, complicating the work of the Courts rather than assisting it”. 

 Hon John Cobbe “JPs will be used more often on the Bench”
President of the Auckland Law Society, A. M. Goulding, said, "It must be remembered that magistrates nowadays have very extensive jurisdiction, and it would be a retrograde step to entrust the important matters that come before them to Justices of the Peace”. Mr Alan Moody, an Auckland solicitor with a long association with the work of the Magistrate's Courts in the city told the Auckland Star, "…to allow justice to be administered by inexperienced and incapable laymen instead of those who have been compelled to undergo a proper legal training is nothing short of a foolish proposition. My experience is that appointment as a J.P. is generally in the nature of a political reward without consideration as to aptitude for the post”. 

J.P. Acts – Horse Destroyed 
In February 1934 it was reported to police in Lower Hutt that horse lay injured on Western Hutt Road at Haywards. Inquiries revealed the animal had been struck by a motor vehicle and suffered a broken shoulder. Under exercise of the powers given in the Police Offences Act, the newspapers of the day reported, a certificate was first obtained from a Justice of the Peace before the animal was destroyed. 
Auckland’s First J.P. Service Desk?
The Auckland Justices of the Peace Association struggled to set up a public desk in the early 1930s.  Justice Department officials repeatedly knocked back each approach, saying there was no space available in the Court buildings. Determined to provide “essential public services”, the Association took a 6 month tenancy of offices in British Chambers, adjacent to the Courthouse. Some 50 J.P.s offered their services and a roster was drawn up giving certainty of two J.P.s in attendance, for two hours each day, Monday to Friday, beginning the first week of February, 1934. “The hours can be extended if needs be,” the Association said, “and we feel certain that this public-spirited venture only needs to be known to be appreciated by the public”. It was, however, not valued nor used by the public so it was closed. (The idea obviously needed time to mature: 80 years later there are more than 50 Service Desks across Auckland, all very popular).  

Self Doubts
A Dargaville JP put out a cry for help from the bench in 1937. He was sitting with another JP and they’d heard evidence against a Whangarei man who pleaded not guilty to traffic offences. 
“This is not a case that Justices of the Peace should be asked to hear,” remarked one of the JPs, “it should come before a magistrate who is a trained man and able to give judgement. I have no intention of sitting on a similar case again because I think a magistrate should try such a case”.
The charges were dismissed.  

JPs as Peace Officers
In 1936 Taranaki Justices of the Peace sought clarification of their powers after the local Registrar advised JPs had the authority and responsibility to break up a fracas, affray or fight. Mr J. A. Valentine said JPs could, and ought to, act when violence broke out in any public place… “you are bound to use your best endeavours to prevent any affray which takes place in your presence”.  He mentioned this “…because in some districts there’s not a policeman for miles, take for example the story of a JP who was called from his home to suppress trouble in a local hall”. President of the Taranaki JP Association and Magistrate, W. H. Woodward, told a meeting of JPs that, as peace officers, they had the right to call in others to help stop a fracas.  Having been informed of their role in such matters, members thought this JP’s duty should be made more public.   

One (or two) Too Many! 
Wellington J.P., Mr J.H. Wallace, was confronted with a curious scene when he was asked to hold Court in the cells at the police station in February 1882. Walter King had been charged with being drunk and disorderly in a public place. He was in no condition to appear in the Police Court, hence Mr Wallace was asked to visit the cells where King was confined. Police had arrested him in a drunken state and he became very violent in the lock-up. A doctor was called to look into King’s alarming behaviour. Delirium Tremens was diagnosed. King later stripped naked and, taking each garment, shredded them to small pieces. He then amused himself by dancing a kind of jig over the fragments scattered in his cell. This was the scene confronting Mr Wallace, J.P. when he visited the lock-up. King was remanded in custody for a week. A police blanket provided modesty as constables, with some difficulty, got the prisoner out of the cell, into a cab and off to the jail. King had been in trouble before… also the result of over-indulgence. On one occasion he rode a horse recklessly at speed up and down Lambton Quay, threatening the safety of townsfolk until a mounted trooper could intercept the horse and the drunken rider. Another time an intoxicated King had spent time sobering-up in the lunatic asylum before being released.

Pardon Me? 
“In Pari Delicto” in a letter to the editor, published in the New Zealand Herald in November 1928, claimed that the method of appointing Justices of the Peace was all wrong. “The first one hears is usually a telegram from the Minister asking if you will accept the appointment: and of course, nine out of ten do. Then the taking of the oath before a stipendiary magistrate - and, hey, presto…you are a fully-fledged justice!” The correspondent pointed out it wasn’t only a matter of competence. “I was sitting some time ago with a senior justice who was presiding, and we decided to withdraw to talk over the case in the magistrate's room. When we had sat down the presiding justice asked me what I thought of the case, as, being deaf, he had hardly caught a word of it!”

Please Explain…
In January 1886 the Under-Secretary wrote to John Lillie Gillies, J.P., of Dunedin advising that his absence had been noted, twice, from the Bench as per the roster, and unless he could give a reasonable excuse he would dismissed as a Justice of the Peace. An annoyed Mr Gillies replied, in essence, that the rule was questionable “because I have signed more affidavits, etc, in Dunedin than anyone else and that if I was to be struck off it would mean gross inconvenience to many townsfolk. Besides, I have been J.P. in a country district for many years where I attended all my duties without payment. The position is not now one of honour” he told the Under-Secretary “and being struck off is no disgrace. Please let me know His Excellency’s decision as soon as possible because every day l am being asked to act as a J.P., and I have no desire to certify any document illegally”. His Excellency replied, asking Mr Gillies if he would in future observe the roster. The J.P. said he would… and retained office.  

MP helps JP
On the night of 7th May 1910 a man, Bethel Prinn Manhire, was fetched into Christchurch Police Station, charged with drunkenness and entered into the charge-book. Early next morning he was bailed. After signing appropriate documentation he was released. Later that morning a local Member of Parliament, Thomas Davey, met with Inspector Robert Gillies to arrange that the defendant’s name not be called in court. It was an embarrassing situation: Manhire, a J.P., was former Mayor of Sydenham. A compliant Inspector Gillies instructed the station Sergeant to alter the documentation. The Sergeant, under protest, changed the name in the charge book to James Brown and the page recording Manhire’s bail bond was torn out and destroyed. A fresh bond was entered in the name of James Brown. Commissioner of Police, F. Wandegrave, investigated newspaper reports about the episode and found the scenario was true. Inspector Gillies was put on 3 months’ sick leave and a similar period of leave of absence with his retirement slated for early 1911 after 36 years’ service. Despite public petitions about this course being followed, Cabinet confirmed the arrangement. M.P. Davey made a confession in Parliament - “… I was a misguided politician out to help a pal, a mistake of the heart and not of the hand…” - and was forgiven, though newspapers of the day said he ought to resign.       

An Election Year Topic 
Told on Lambton Quay”, a column by The Ancient Mariner, Wairarapa Times Age, October 1895, abridged. 

“J.P. or the term Justice of the Peace is not held in sufficient veneration, and the reason is not far to seek.
Successive Governments in their efforts to reward political supporters have palmed off upon the community some rare specimens of crystallised stupidity. (see also below Crystallised Stupidity – A Study). Some Justices are no doubt well worthy of the honour conferred on them, while others only too plainly illustrate that there is in this country an overproduction of fools. 
Amongst the last batch selected for honourable distinction and permitted to tack on to their names the magic letters J.P., are those often well-known in business circles but who are liable, at frequent intervals, to be seized with paroxysms of egotism. 
This complaint threatens to become chronic, more noticeable since these people have been able to sign themselves J.P.  It’s a painful illness but the sufferers are usually unconscious of the affliction and can be somewhat dangerous while the fits of vanity continue. The symptoms are further measured by heaving of a puffed-out chest, a sanguinary colouring of the cheeks, a perky walk, and a swagger movement of the head with the eyes glancing furtively from side to side. When stricken with this complaint, it is only very intimate friends that dare to address the new JP, and they find it best to say some- thing complimentary. Casual acquaintances and strangers are treated to flashes of withering scorn that shrivel them up and spoil their appetites.
Some of our favourably known citizens who are highly respected by the intelligent portion of the community and who count as estimable characters are, in my opinion, unfitted for the position of a Justice of the Peace”.  

Crystallised Stupidity - A Study 
- “Told on Lambton Quay”, a column by The Ancient Mariner, Wairarapa Times Age, October 1895. Abridged. 

“I have said that some of those in the last batch of appointments to Justices of the Peace don’t measure up.  I described them as examples of “crystallised stupidity” and how these JPs are frequently seized by attacks of egotism.  
One of the recent appointments as JP is a well-known Wellington gent who holds some important positions, and is in every way an estimable character. Notwithstanding that, he is a bit fiery. He is one of those who, in my opinion, is not unfitted for the position of a Justice of the Peace. 
How this J.P. took his seat on the Bench, and the incidents connected therewith, are now matters of history. But let me tell them. 
He attended Court in a broadcloth suit, its lustrous sheen glistening, crowned by an expensive bell-topper hat. "Justice tempered with mercy" lurked in the corners of his eyes and the puckers of his mouth. His heart thumped fit to burst, but his demeanour on the whole was modest and unassuming. 
He swooped down on the Bench with a superfine slouch, twirled his moustache, then mopped his face with his handkerchief, looked up to the ceiling for inspiration, the flies reminding him that there should be no "flies" on a Justice of the Peace. The other Justices summoned to attend did not turn up, and the novice was thus obliged to take the business by himself, the only case being a hopeless case of drunkenness. 
A solitary J.P. on the Bench and a solitary "drunk" in the dock… one was a new chum; the other was an old soldier. The police proved the guilt of the prisoner, and there was nothing left but to fix him up with a punishment. The J.P. bending over the rails of his enclosure appealed to the Clerk of the Court in a whisper, "What’s the usual penalty in such a case?" 
“Five bob fine or twenty-four hours inside," responded the Clerk, who immediately clawed his pen ready to record the decision of the Bench.
But just at this supreme moment something went wrong with the works. The Clerk waited a minute or more and, wondering what the delay was, glanced towards the Bench for an explanation. The J.P. was almost invisible, yet it was quite apparent that he was searching for something. He was rummaging the shelving around the seat of justice, bobbing from one side to the other. 
“What is the matter? Have you lost anything?" asked the wondering Clerk. 
The response came from the J.P. in a deeply impressive tone, and tinged with a deadly significance.
"I'm looking for the black cap".
The unfortunate J.P. was seized with the malady (the condition I have often spoken about) paroxysm of egotism, and for the moment, fancied he was a P.J. (Puisne Judge), instead of a J.P. (Justice of the Peace), and was about to sentence the poor sot in the dock to be hanged. 
Friends of this fiery J.P. say that anyone wishing to experience the luxury of danger have only  to mention to him the words "blackcap", and missiles of every description will fly about the head and body of the offender. 
The JP is making frantic efforts to cure himself of these fits of vanity, but the more he tries the worse they seem to get. He is still alive”. 

Bringing Home the Bacon – The Last Word 
“That system of law is best which confides as little as possible to the discretion of the Judge: that Judge the best who relies as little as possible on his own opinion” – Francis Bacon, 1561 – 1626, De Augmentis. Aph 46

Mission In Jeopardy

Ric Carlyon - Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Maori Chief Has Doubts
The Reverend Samuel Marsden found the pilgrimage business risky, expensive and trying.
Now, in November 1814, the brig “Active” was on its voyage from Sydney to New Zealand carrying missionaries, New Zealand’s first Justice of the Peace and settlers… and Marsden was faced with yet another deal-breaker.
It was further tribulation for the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in its long-held determination to establish the first mission in New Zealand.

Series of Setbacks
First there was the 5 years’ imposed delay, the period the New South Wales Governor deterred ships visiting New Zealand for fear there was repetition of the “Boyd massacre of 1809 when Maori attacked the ship, killing 60 or so passengers and crew, cannibalising them.
Then, the Governor having relaxed his restriction and allowing the CMS a survey party to visit Bay of Islands in mid-1814, Marsden could not contract a suitable ship for the trip, so purchased “Active” and persuaded Captain Hansen to make the voyage.
That short visit ashore by Thomas Kendall and others was a success in that they found most Maori agreed with the proposed mission and, when told of this on their return to Sydney, the Governor approved the CMS venture under Samuel Marsden.
Once all arrangements were in hand and permission to sail was confirmed, “Active” left the docks on November 19th, 1814, but did not clear the harbour. There was a delay of more than a week while the ship was forced to shelter inside the heads at Watsons Bay, awaiting several violent storms to pass.
It was during this set-back that Marsden was faced with an unexpected episode which could have been the end to the voyage, and the Mission, at least in the meantime. He later recounted that it began with an approach from one of the Maori Chiefs returning to New Zealand aboard "Active".

Ruatara’s Reservations
Ruatara told Marsden that he wanted to leave the mission, to disembark and return to Sydney Town.
He said he was anxious about his role to protect the missionaries when they reached their destination. These misgivings were based on rumours he heard in Sydney saying that the European new-comers, once in New Zealand, would repeat the situation in Australia, ousting the natives, reducing Maori to second-rate citizens. Given this scenario to the cost of his people, Ruatara personally felt he no longer wished to assist the mission and, moreover, he feared he would be held accountable by Maori for any untoward consequences after the coming of the colonists. 
Marsden assured Ruatara that the mission wished nothing but cordial relations with Maori and, more or less to prove it, acquiesced to the chief’s request and ordered the ship to weigh anchor and head back to the docks where passengers would be put ashore and the cargo discharged. The implication that this would end the mission, and that Ruatara would be to blame, changed the Chief’s mind. He immediately implored Marsden to continue the venture so that once in Bay of Islands he could look after the mission under his personal care, protection and patronage, as had been planned all along.
Ruatara, however, may have seen the venture as now much more under his control.

Ruatara’s Other Duties
Perhaps Marsden also reminded Ruatara in conversation that he, “Shungie” and “Korra Korra” (Maori names Hongi and Korokoro) had been especially empowered by Government proclamation to help protect Maori and to promote race relations. This, Marsden might have pointed out, would not have occurred if the mission, and settlers, planned to ill-treat the natives.  
This move involving the three Maori was made just before the “Active” left Sydney. Governor Macquarie had formally authorised them to support Kendall carry out his orders - that British or Colonial ships were not allowed to discharge and land sailors in New Zealand.
The three were also empowered to ensure no Maori were taken on as crew by visiting ships without Kendall’s prior permission and that of local Rangatira (chiefs). So Ruatara was part of this protection, perhaps one of the first three race relation officers in New Zealand, and at the very start of European settlement, at that.

Ruatara - The Key
In earlier days Ruatara had crewed on ships in the Pacific, and further afield, and had stayed with Marsden at Parramatta for a year or so, during which time the Maori studied agriculture. Ruatara had a vision of converting New Zealand wasteland to productive farmland. Kendall had taken a mill to New Zealand on his earlier recce visit: Ruatara impressed visitors and tangata whenua alike with the results of grinding wheat, harvested from supplies sent by Marsden. With Te Pahi’s death, Ruatara, still in his 20s became the Nga Puhi chief in 1812. His part, accompanying the first mission to Bay of Islands in 1814 and affording protection and guidance, was considered vital to the enterprise’s success. The “Boyd” tragedy was still in everyone’s mind.

The Bigger Picture
Marsden had time during the voyage to New Zealand to go back to N.S.W. Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s letter requesting the mission explore, with all safety, New Zealand’s coastline for sheltered anchorages and potential ports, then to proceed to the interior looking at the soil and its suitability for agriculture.  A favourable report, said the Governor, and “I’ll be induced to consider a form of permanent establishment on these islands”. Macquarie saw a colony in the making and the benefits of a nearby trading partner for New South Wales. 











2014 - A JP’s ‘Snapshot’ of duties at a CAB

Ric Carlyon - Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rather than looking back at our history as we celebrate 200 years since the appointment of the first of J.P., here’s a look at some of the J.P. Ministerial duties carried out today. It also helps answer the frequently asked question, what do J.P.s do?  

It’s Monday afternoon at a few minutes to one o’ clock at one of Auckland's Citizens’ Advice Bureaus when I arrive for my weekly, 2 hour “session”. Every seat in the waiting area is taken. It’s going to be another busy afternoon.  Having adjusted my date stamp, got out my notebook and headed up the CAB “log”, I’m all set to begin. The first client wants to make a Statutory Declaration enabling her to sponsor her sister-in-law from China.

This is  part of form ‘INZ 1025’, familiar to all JPs and the most common document I will see in the next 2 hours, or, for that matter, at any of my Monday sessions. In fact, before I leave today there will be 8 similar Declarations completed and 2 held over, awaiting essential details. 

Education, Insurance and Security
An anxious parent who has just moved into the district has a Declaration enabling her to enrol her daughter at the nearby secondary school and then a young man, a recent arrival to New Zealand, wants to complete a Declaration of his identity which he needs to augment his Bangladeshi travel document. He’s followed by a client with an insurance agreement - a witness is required as he signs acceptance of the Underwriter’s offer for the “written off’ value of his crashed car. 
Several clients want copies of passports, birth certificates and academic records certified as “true copies”.


A young woman wants me to witness her 18+ card Declaration, and two young men are affirming they are of good character, without criminal convictions, which will assist them to become licensed security guards. The next client was following up on his recent change of gender; she’s here to take the next statutory step towards a name change. 

Pensions, Visas, and another Stat Decs
I was happy to welcome one of my regular clients, a retired stationmaster who served his time with the Indian Central Railways in Mumbai (Bombay as was). 


I sign his “Life Certificate” each year* to attest that he’s still in the land of the living so that his pension will continue. “Keep well, see you again next year... and that’s a definite arrangement”, I tell him as he departs the office, my standard line after signing these “Life Certificates” and after dealing with that other hardy annual, “Application for Rates Rebate”, which is presented mostly by local aging pensioners.
One of the clients presenting with an ‘IN 1025’ is one attachment short for her application, so while the missing page is being photocopied I take a glance into the waiting room. About half full, I note. One of the ever-helpful CAB Volunteers offers me coffee. Thanks, but I think I’ll carry on and try to see everyone before 3 o’clock.  A couple more of those Immigration forms and then a man who wants to declare that he was not driving the family car the day it broke down, police ticketed it and had it towed away. This is likely to have family repercussions, he says, because his brother had borrowed the car that day but doesn’t have a current driver’s licence. By signing the form the client pointed out that he was, in essence, inviting police to go after his brother!

*2015: Alas my old friend has since passed on, and , anyway, Justices of the Peace are no longer able to sign Life Certificates.

Home Schooling and Brothel-keeping
The next client had a form I rarely see, a Statutory Declaration detailing home schooling attendances, and then a woman with a document which went even one better: it’s a document I had never seen before. As she was assembling the paperwork I spotted the Ministry of Justice logo on one document and the words ‘Application for Operator Certificate’.

“Um... to operate... what... exactly...?” I wondered silently. And just as well I kept the question to myself. It’s issued pursuant to Section 35 of the Prostitution Reform Act, 2003, and has several aspects that may be signed by a Justice of the Peace. With perhaps just a tad more discretion than usual and very careful small-talk that could not be mis-construed in any way, I furnished the details required, and the woman’s application to operate a business of prostitution was complete. That left the last client to be seen, just on 3.10pm, one more ‘IN 1025’, just for luck.

Variety – The Spice of a JP’s Life!
During the 2 hours I dealt with 31 clients, an average of less than 5 minutes with each: Tangata Whenua,  Pacific Islanders, Chinese, a Malaysian family, a man from Serbia, a woman from the USA, Indian nationals, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans, a couple from Brazil, the Bangladeshi and a few pakeha New Zealanders. In fact, looking down the list I note that the first seven entries show people from seven different overseas countries.
The range of documents encountered was extended the very next week by a woman formally declaring she was pregnant so she could request Maternity Leave and a man who wanted several means of identification attested so he could apply to the TAB for a remotely operated betting account. Now that was a strange one! An Australian woman returning home to re-settle brought in a Statutory Declaration which, if accepted by MAF, would enable her to take the family’s pedigree Spaniel with them to Adelaide. A man from Ethiopia, a family from South Africa and a native of Uruguay helped round out the global representation we see at the CAB.
What variety! Where’s time to be bored dealing with such interesting clients, and their diverse documents?!

The Homework
My “JP Day” some 200 years after our first Justice of the Peace was appointed was not quite complete because I had made an appointment to see a couple that evening to sign their “Dissolution” papers. The pair arrived on time, the paperwork was quickly seen-to and they departed with another step towards dissolution, the two young men showing genuine sadness that their partnership had not worked out.

Now there’s a concept of “union” that missionary/J.P. Thomas Kendall could not possibly have envisaged in 1814. J.P. duties have diversified more than somewhat over 200 years! 






Confidences of a J.P.

Ric Carlyon - Monday, November 10, 2014

Continuing the series recalling Justices of the Peace duties over the years, this is an article published in Christchurch’s Press newspaper, November 1900, in which a reporter asks an elderly (unnamed) J.P. to look back over his time serving in rural communities. It gives one man's view of being a J.P. in the late 1800s. 

 Respect… well, some…

Q. What is it like to be a J.P.? Is it difficult, does it take up much time?

A. "Well, it is supposed to be nice at first. It is believed to be an honour to be able to sign J.P. after your name, and to have the police and other people touching their hats, though, as for constables saluting J.P.s, that custom has fallen into disuse. It isn't difficult to be a J.P. if you take no trouble… there are so many parts. The law part is heavy, as anyone perusing the manuals and law books can see but with care and perseverance, I think I passed fairly creditably”.

Drunks Leave Town

Q. How did you come to be appointed?

A. "I was asked by the Resident Magistrate to act in repressing the nuisance of drunken labourers in the neighbourhood. After some persuasion I consented, and since then one or two nuisances have disappeared from my locality, and the place is all the better for it. I always tried to get the other Justices with whom I was sitting to impose sentences which were sufficiently stiff, and, if possible, give a little free advice to the defendants.  I could see that sound and clear advice often had better effect than excessive penalties”.

 Any Mistakes?

Q. Did you ever convict any innocent persons in error?"

A. “Not that l’m aware of. On one occasion a warrant to arrest an innocent man was signed, and the constable was well on his way to serve it when I stopped it under a suspicion that the information laid for the alleged offence was untruthful. It was recalled in time. There have been other episodes. Some months after I sat on a Bench which sent for trial two men for the same offence, one of whom was the informant.  On another matter a warrant was brought to me for correction in which the name of a witness in a case had been substituted for that of the defendant a man alleged to have stolen some pigs.


On another occasion a man complained his house had been entered and cash, exactly 70 pounds, taken. His statement seemed clear and the police sergeant was keen on the matter, believing it a straight forward case of theft. ‘Well’, I said, 'go and examine the man's house, and the box from which the cash was stolen”.  The man suddenly became very anxious. I asked him to wait with me while the search was made. The sergeant returned with the exact amount of the cash found in the place as described by the informer. I gave him a talking-to about fabricating false accusations and frightened him with a threat to confiscate his 70 pounds – then left matters lie”.

View From the Bench

Q. Talking of lying… how do you handle those who don’t tell the truth in Court?

A. "The greatest trouble in Court is caused by lying witnesses, and if I could have had it my way such persons should only be allowed to make a statement for what it is worth compared with the rest of the evidence. It would assist Justices and Magistrates immensely if they were to tell a lying witness to stand down, and refuse to allow him or her to be sworn again. The perjurer may begin evidence without realising its effect, but if not detected by the Bench many a poor innocent person would be sent to languish in gaol”.

Q. And setting fines?

A. “The adjustment of fines is rather a difficult matter.  Sometimes the fines appear erratic, due to there being a large maximum penalty fixed which to some Justices looks smaller than it does to others. Except in extreme cases of wilful mischief, injury to the public services, etc., the fines should hold some relation to a man's earnings. But it is, and will be, ever a matter of difficulty to arrange an exact scale of fines. 

Q. Where have you ministered?

A. “On one occasion I held Court in the porch of a chapel, and one or two inquests were heard out on the grass where the accommodation of the dwelling was not suitable, the jury at one of these standing to attention while I occupied a soap box for a seat, and a rough bush table served to write the depositions on".

Q. And the most unusual?

A. “It was left to me on one occasion to sign a summons to myself in my own Court, and take down my own evidence! Now, that's unusual!”

Most Publicised Statutory Declaration

Ric Carlyon - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In all the years JPs have been taking Statutory Declarations, perhaps the most publicised was taken in the early 1900s, that of Mrs Ellen Carter of Dunedin. The declaration was part of a long, rambling column in the Otago Daily Times on 18th November 1905 advertising a proprietary medicine, Clements Tonic. 

 The distinctive brown bottle... some also had the embossed notice 'remains the property of Clements Tonic"

The article began relating the many years of suffering poor Mrs Carter endured including melancholy, upset digestive organs, sleeplessness, back ache, neuralgia, restlessness, morning sickness, flatulence and palpitations of the heart. A more comprehensive catalogue of ills is hard to imagine, but help was at hand! As might be anticipated in such an advertisement, we were told that “a friend”, per chance, suggested taking Clements Tonic. “Had I not taken it, I don't believe I would be here now, for Clements Tonic was the only thing that saved me, and you may be surprised to hear I had only taken two bottles of that medicine when I began to get relief”, Mrs Carter declared, “two bottles, mind you, gave me more ease than all the medicine I had paid for over many years, and the best of it all was that I got stronger and stronger as each bottle was emptied… the pains and stiffness were gone. I believe Clements Tonic put ten years on to my life!”

Mrs Carter's endorsement of the fine product is followed by the Statutory Declaration.  

I, Ellen Carter, of 56 Dowling Street, Dunedin, in the Colony of New Zealand, do solemnly and sincerely declare that I have carefully read the annexed document, consisting of three folios, and consecutively numbered from one to three, and that it contains and is a true and faithful account of my illness and cure by Clements Tonic, and also contains my full permission to publish in any way my statements which I give voluntarily, without receiving any payment and I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the provisions of an Act of the General Assembly of New Zealand, intituled "The Justices of Peace Act, 1852." 
(Mrs Carter’s signature is reproduced)

Declared at Dunedin this twelfth day of March, one thousand nine hundred and three, before me, (signed) R. CHISHOLM, J.P.'

Footnote: Clements Tonic, a formula devised by Frederick Clements in Australia in 1886, is still available today more than a century after Mrs Carter found so much relief. Press publicity in 1919 maintained the preparation helped recuperation of those affected by the Influenza Epidemic. Clements produced several editions of cook books which proved popular in Australia and New Zealand. 

The Clements Cookbook appeared for several decades from the early 1900s

Well-publicised claims over the years show Clements has so many applications. Parents say it calmed student's nerves before examinations leading to academic success while and a pigeon fancier swore by its benefit given to his birds before a race. Advertising switched to lengthy campaigns on television in New Zealand in the 1960s.. "without Clements you only feel half alive!"

J.P. Duties Over the Years

Ric Carlyon - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

J.P. duties have been many and varied over the years.... today, many seem quaint… and, as will be seen, in some cases unbelievable!

As part of activities to mark 200 years of service by J.P.s to New Zealand, here’s a sampling of what we’ve  been called on to do over the past two centuries with an emphasis on times past…

+ From the early 1840s local J.P.s were responsible for revising their district’s Jury List.

The Duke of Marlborough, Russell, today.

+ From the same time, J.P.s were also responsible for granting publican’s licences. 
The first issued in New Zealand, to John Johnson for the Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Kororareka (Russell) was signed on the 30th October 1840 - only after Justices of the Peace authorised it. 

+ 3 senior J.P.s joined Governor Hobson and the Executive Council to form our first Legislative Council

+ The “Cattle Trespass Ordinance No. 10” of 1846 gave any 2 J.P.s power to take evidence about damages done by straying cattle which had been inadequately fenced and, if proven, levy compensation costs against the owner of the wandering stock.
+ In the mid-late 1800s J.P.s had the say on the disposal of strayed stock under the Impounding Act, 1856. Roaming animals would be put in the Public Pound waiting to be claimed by their owner. The Pound-keeper was duty bound to advertise a description of the animals and if no one claimed them he would sell them to defray costs for feed. But first a JP had to approve the sale. 

+ The Defence Act 1886 also mentioned a duty for J.P.s. Any person guilty of interrupting or obstructing any Defence Forces at parade, muster, or inspection, the person having been first warned off by an Officer, may be arrested, held until after the conclusion of military manoeuvres for the day and then, at the Officer’s discretion, taken in custody before a J.P. There was provision for a maximum fine of one pound.
+ J.P.s heard witnesses’ accounts after the 1843 Wairau affray, the bloody engagement between Maori and British settlers, which left 22 British and 4 Maori dead

+ Whether an official duty or not, in 1861 an un-named J.P. in Otago thought it proper to report a gold discovery to the Superintendent of the Province.

“It’s a new gold-field,” the letter advised, “a rich deposit near Moeraki. The gold is of a finer description than any I have yet seen, not much water-worn, and I should describe it as half-pea nuggetty”.  The information was wrong. The nuggets had come from somewhere else. Diggers were warned off and the J.P. was publicly admonished for his “absurd alarm”.

+ J.P.s residing on the coast were expected to report debris washed up after shipwrecks.
Details were received on flotsam from the brigantine “Hercules” which foundered on the Kaipara Harbour heads in 1874 and news of a lifeboat washed ashore from HMS “Dart”, thought missing off North Cape in a storm in 1889. The ship, in fact, survived the gale losing her boat overboard in mountainous seas off Three Kings Islands.

+ In 1850s Governor Sir George Grey introduced what we today would call a Small Claims Tribunal, with JPs presiding. Although controversial, the measure meant that any civil claim could be decided by Resident Magistrate, or any two or more Justices of the Peace, by way of summary proceeding, provided that neither of the parties were of the native race, that the defendant resided more than 10 miles from the office of any Court of Requests, and that the debt or damage claimed did not exceed twenty pounds.

+ In the 1880s Justices of the Peace could ensure paupers got a burial.  The Cemeteries Act provided that a poor person might be buried free in any section of a cemetery on an order signed by a J.P.

+ Justices of the Peace had two roles in an 1846 law which enabled insane persons to be detained. First, two JPs had to be satisfied that medical practitioners testifying about lunatics had appropriate qualifications. Having proved their credentials the doctors could, on oath, give evidence before the J.P.s that persons were dangerous lunatics or idiots, following which  the J.P.s, where appropriate, had authority to commit such persons to “strict custody”.

+ J.P.s, under an 1880 Act, could vouch for the “good reputation” of an alien seeking naturalisation.

+ In the 1880s J.P.s., exclusively, decided sentences for serious disciplinary matters within the New Zealand Volunteer Forces. The Commanding Officer of J. Battery, the N.Z. Artillery Volunteers, Gisborne, thought he should be entitled to decide punishment and appealed the question in the Supreme Court. Mr Justice Richmond said “under Section 46 of the Volunteer Act the commanding officer is the prosecutor, not the judge… ….the jurisdiction to adjudicate is given to Justices of the Peace alone”. The proceedings were widely reported in New Zealand newspapers of the day, headlined “Important Decision For Volunteers”.    

+ In the handbook “New Zealand Justice of the Peace” by W. C. R. Haselden, 1895, J.P.s are advised of new responsibilities within legislation. In the past year, he reported, the following had been added to existing J.P.s’ duties: Abattoirs, Criminal Code, Destitute Persons, Gaming, Indictable Offences, Lunatics, Oaths, Offensive Publications, School Attendance, Shipping, Sea Fisheries, Shops and Shop Assistants and the Stamp Act.  “This,” wrote the author, “is illustration of the speed in which legislation is going on”.

+In March 1928 Mrs N. E. Ferner and Miss S. E. Jackson were given a unique role. Under Section 27 of the Child Welfare Act they were appointed Justices with jurisdiction on the bench in the Auckland Children’s Court. Mrs Ferner had sat with the presiding magistrate as “associate member” since April 1925 when that court was constituted but for those 3 years could only tender advice on cases brought forward. Mrs Nellie Ferner founded the Sunshine School in the old Nelson Street School in 1928, a day-care haven for children as they recuperated after hospital treatment and for others needing care. Fresh air, good diet and sunlight were features of the institution, later credited with fewer cases of delinquency seen by the Courts. Miss Jackson was until 1925 matron of the Mount Albert Industrial Home. She retired after 34 years’ service, so had wide experience in child welfare work.

+ For many years J.P.s have sat as Coroners.
The Evening Post in 1936… “Magistrates in New Zealand by virtue of their office are Coroners, and every Coroner by virtue of his office is a Justice of the Peace. The Coronership in this country is not confined to Magistrates, there being a number of Coroners who are not Magistrates. They are usually appointed from the ranks of the Justices of the Peace to determine when, where and why death occurred”.

+ JPs also regularly acted as coroners at inquests into the cause of fires, whether or not they resulted in death or injury. The enquiry was to decide the cause, and, if necessary, to make any recommendations, usually to try to prevent recurrence. In 1889 B. O. Stewart, J.P. “and a respectable jury” (as the Daily Southern Cross newspaper put it) inquired into a fire that destroyed Mr Roberts’ Port Waikato home. The jury could not determine the cause.

+ But it was different in 1926 when A. S. Laird, J.P. conducted an inquest into a blaze that wiped out almost the entire township of Raurimu. “I return an open verdict. In my opinion evidence is insufficient to warrant a charge being made, and… I find that the Spiral Hotel was burned down under suspicious circumstances, and that all the other buildings were destroyed as a result of the fire in the hotel".

 + J.P.s were called on to perform tasks well outside thjeir offiial duties.
Consider Mr Phillip Sebastien Riley’s long day in December 1934 when as a J.P. he witnessed an attempt on the world shearing record at Pihama in Taranaki. Crack shearer Percy de Malmanche put through 409 sheep in 9 hours, breaking the world record.
Mr Riley issued a certificate to that effect, adding in his own handwriting that, unlike some shearers, de Malmanche had, unaided, caught and dragged each sheep from the pen. (The record survived until the 1950s when Godfrey Bowen broke it.)

+Electoral - In the old days it was up to J.P.s to scan the electoral rolls to ensure only eligible people were listed, and at the other end of the process, J.P.s to this day are still deployed to observe the final official counting of votes after elections.

+Electoral – J.P.s in earlier times were requited to witness electoral petitions when there were challenges to the declared result of local body elections.


+New regulations to the Poisons Act in 1937 meant a J.P. or police officer had to vouch for the identification of those persons not known to the pharmacist who wished to buy the more potent poisons.

+J.P.s signed off destruction of animals.
In February 1934 a severely injured horse lying in the road in Lower Hutt was destroyed by police after a J.P. signed an appropriate enabling certificate pursuant to the Police Offences Act.

+As late as 1939 if a J.P. signed a declaration, satisfied that a deceased person’s estate, or relatives, had insufficient funds to pay for the burial, the trustees of any cemetery were obliged to bury the body free of charge.

Mary Anderson. J. P.

+ In June 1945 Auckland J.P. Mary Anderson, was reputedly the first woman to sit on the bench as a Magistrate. She had been appointed JP in 1943.

+ In 1863 importation of cattle regulations were liberalised in Southland with a role for JPs. Stock arriving in port from Australia could now be landed without a declaration signed overseas to the effect that the animals came from a disease-free environment. Under new rules the importer could swear a statement before a local Magistrate or 2 Justices of the Peace attesting that the animals came from a “clean” area, to best knowledge and belief, free from infectious disease, and once the statutory form was completed the cattle could be landed.  

+For decades J.P.s swore in members of fire brigades as Fire Police until the office was phased out in 2010. Once sworn, individuals had the power under the Fire Service Act of police constables at fires and other emergencies.

Fire Police cap badge c.1933

Auckland had the biggest Fire Police Unit which began in 1933 and over the years grew to a fire brigade in its own right of 60 volunteer members. The Unit’s first Captain was Harry Jane, J.P., who swore in the members annually.

+ In local body elections some authorities decide to publish the candidates’ names on voting documents in pseudo-random order, rather than in traditional alphabetical order, as provided in the Local Electoral Regulations 2001. A J.P. is often called to draw names out of a hat to determine the “pseudo-random order”. 

+ J.P.s were regular witnesses at executions until capital punishment ended in 1957. The 1858 Act provided for any JPs who wished to be present, but must remain until after the hanging and then sign testimony that the death sentence had been carried out. A Justice also made orders to appropriate persons who, within 8 hours of the hanging, were allowed to view the body.

+ Some newspapers required the signature of a Justice of the Peace appended to copy submitted for publication in Births, Deaths and Marriages notices. Other newspapers stipulated that a J.P., clergyman or the paper’s local agent could sign as authentication. 

+ J.P.s had a role in the Destitute Persons Act 1908.
Presented with a complaint on oath that a parent is not providing for a child under 16 years of age, a J.P. may issue a summons requiring the parent to show cause why a maintenance order should not be issued.

In some overseas jursidictions posters warned citizens that the effects of the Riot Act applied  

+ J.P.s and the Riot Act.
Prior to reform of the Crimes Act in 1987, J.P.s were among those authorised by law to read a clause incorporating the so-called “Riot Act”. Where 12 or more persons unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled together for the disturbance of the public peace, a J.P. using a loud voice first had to command silence. And, after that, openly, and with equally loud voice make a proclamation - ”Her Majesty the Queen commands all of you to disperse immediately and to go quietly to your homes or to your lawful business, upon pain of being charged with an offence punishable by imprisonment for 5 years. God Save the Queen!".

News Item from 200 Years Ago Today

Ric Carlyon - Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 8th October 1814

The “Active”, Mr. Dillon master, is expected to sail on a return voyage to New Zealand, in three weeks or a month, for the excellent purpose, as we understand, of setting down several Gentlemen of the Church Missionary Society, to commence the benign labour of opening the minds of the natives to those benevolent and just conceptions which adorn the Christian Religion, and which in a region of cannibals, will, it is much to be hoped, soon display its benefits, in putting an end to those horrible sacrifices, at the report of which we have so often shuddered.

What They Said About our First JP, Thomas Kendall…

Ric Carlyon - Monday, September 01, 2014

Thomas Kendall, Man of Many Parts
... as seen by those closest to him  

“Kendall, the scholar of the party, an eager student of the language and customs of the New
Zealanders, was so much affected by his environment and the general lack of restraining influences as to give way to immorality and drunkenness. The inner conflict revealed in his correspondence, as he strove to reconcile his mode of life with his continued teaching of Christian ethics to the New Zealanders, is a psychological study of the most intense type” - Marsden's Lieutenants, Edited by John Rawson Elder, Coulls, Somerville, and Wilkie and A. H. Reed, published by the Otago University Council, 1934.

“…Kendall's life was a long struggle with self. It is to his credit, however, that he was animated
throughout his missionary career by an intense desire to put on record the result of his researches into the customs, ideas, and language of the New Zealanders. He maintained his interest in the Maori from the day when he first set foot in New Zealand as the leader of the pioneer party sent by Marsden to make in the Active the reconnaissance of 1814” – John Rawson Elder, ibid

 “…there is nothing more tragic, more pathetic, than the story of Kendall’s decline and fall” - Eric Ramsden, introducing his review of "Marsden's Lieutenants"*, in the Sydney Morning Herald, 15 September 1934.

“Truth to tell, Kendall was a man of ungovernable temper, a man of unrestrained impulses” – Eric Ramsden, ibid.

"I think Mr. Kendall will prove himself a valuable man for the work. His heart is engaged in the cause - he is very mild in his manners - kind, tender and affectionate, and well qualified to treat with an ignorant heathen” – Samuel Marsden when Kendall was accepted into Christian Missionary Society, 1813, Marsden’s Lieutenants 

“Both Kendall and (later) Butler were appointed Justices of the Peace… … although they could only employ moral authority in their attempts to bring law-breakers to justice. The growing incidence of prostitution and drunkenness filled the missionaries with horror… …and they also complained that their own missionary work was being undermined” - Transplanted Christianity, Peter Lineham and Allan K Davidson** 

"If Mr. Kendall were to desist writing against any of us, looked to his own duty, and kept busy, sober and quiet, it would be much more to his credit now and greatly to his advantage in the latter end." – John King, fellow missionary shoemaker and flax spinner.

"Mr William Hall (fellow missionary and carpenter) and Mr. Kendall quarrel very much, but they both agree to deprive us of what is right” – John King

“Hall retaliated by firing ‘a pistol loaded with two balls’ which ‘set Mr. Kendall's raincoat on fire and grazed Hall's wife's arm’” – John King after Kendall reportedly attacked Walter Hall with a chisel in the presence of Hall’s wife and baby-in-arms.

“Kendall's supreme effort… …was to sail for England without permission in 1820, with the chiefs Hongi (Hika) and Waikato. Hongi sold the presents he received abroad in Sydney on his return, converting the proceeds into muskets and powder. Thousands perished in New Zealand as a result, slaughtered with the weapons of the Pakeha (European)” – Eric Ramsden, ibid.

“Kendall engaged in musket trading and he became involved with a young Maori girl of high rank” – Peter Lineham and Allan K Davidson, Transplanted Christianity, **  

"Your conduct is calculated to make angels and Christian men weep and devils and New Zealanders (Maori) greatly to rejoice!" – Francis Hall, missionary who later arrived in Bay of Islands. 

“…you have ruined yourself in this life, and lost your honourable and sacred rank in society, which you can never regain to the day of your death… …may God be merciful to you. I feel it my painful duty to communicate to you, as agent to the C.M.S. that you will now consider yourself suspended from duty as a missionary belonging to the C.M.S., until the pleasure of the Society is known” – Samuel Marsden in a letter to Kendall, July 1822 (New Zealand Electronic Text Collection website)

Convict Joseph Backler painted Rev. Samuel Marsden in Sydney - Alexander Turnbull Library 

“I lament his fall, but it has not been sudden. He could never have acted as he has done… … unless he had been under the government of unruly passions. I only wonder that he was not murdered by the New Zealanders!" – Samuel Marsden, dismissing Kendall from the Mission, 1822, for immoral conduct and trading muskets and powder.   

“Kendall - headstrong, self-willed, and quarrelsome, he would have periods of deep contrition; and at all times seems to have the Mission much at heart. Even in his disgrace he begged to be allowed 
to continue his work” – Rt Rev Herbert Williams, Bishop of Waiapu, reviewing "Marsden's Lieutenants"*, Waiapu Church Gazette, October 1934. 

“Mr. Kendall has retired from New Zealand, having embarked on board some ship, with his family, hither for South America or America - we remember not which exactly. Recent information bids us report, that the idea of colonising New Zealand is altogether abandoned. A needy adventurer or two attempted to effectuate certain schemes in London, but for want of sufficient resources, their arrangements were necessarily relinquished, and the new colony ended in a bottle of smoke!”  - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 14 April 1825.  

“It was impossible to find a parallel in the history of Protestant missions of such inefficiency and worthlessness. The first head of it was dismissed for adultery, the second for drunkenness, and the third for a crime still more enormous than either!" - Presbyterian Minister, activist and republican, John Dunmore Lang. 
“The Materials for “A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Language of New Zealand” have for the most part been previously collected in New Zealand by Mr Kendall… …the furtherance of the Mission sent out to New Zealand for the double purpose of civilizing and evangelizing the Natives of the country was the general object for which this work was undertaken” – Professor Samuel Lee, “Director of the Project resulting in this reference work”, Cambridge, 1820.      

Kendall's writings thus deal with the vicissitudes of the New Zealand Mission, his friendships with the great Hongi and other New Zealand chiefs, his researches into Maori religion and ethics, and his ideas with regard to the Maori language. Taken as a whole they are documents of outstanding interest” – John Rawson Elder, ibid

Kendall's primer was published in 1815, among the first Maori words in print

During his leisure the schoolmaster prepared a primer of the native language, which was printed (in 1815) at the office of the Sydney Gazette. Only one copy of the work is known now to exist, and that is preserved in the Auckland Museum” “W.R.S.” writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, 16th July 1932

While much of the credit goes to William Williams for translating the New Testament into the Maori language in the 1840s, the basic work, often unrecognised, had been done by John Kendall in his “A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Language of New Zealand” published in 1820” – Erima Henare, Chairman of the Maori Language Commission, March 2014, addressing the Annual Conference of the Royal Federation of New Zealand Justices Associations Incorporated. 

As a schoolmaster, Kendall had more work and success. His school was opened In August, 1816, with thirty-three pupils, and a year later there were seventy on the roll, one of the chief, Te Pahi’s, children being of the number” - “W.R.S.", Ibid

…all this is a valuable contribution to what may be called the initial chapter in the colonisation and Christianisation of the Dominion of New Zealand” – J.E.C., The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February, 1920, reporting the discovery of documents in Thomas Kendall’s own handwriting about his missionary activities in Sydney and New Zealand from 7th March 1814.


THOMAS KENDALL – Quick facts about our first J.P.

Ric Carlyon - Thursday, August 14, 2014


                                THOMAS KENDALL – Quick facts about our first J.P.


Thomas Kendall, J.P., b. 1778 – d. 1832*

    • Born Lincolnshire, 13th December 1778, younger son of farmer Edward  and Susanna
    • He grew up in rural North Thoresby, Lincolnshire
    • Married Jane Quickfall in November 1803
    • Had a ‘religious experience’ in London in 1808 and moved his family to Marylebone
    • Accepted into the Church of England Missionary Society and sailed for Sydney in 1813
    • June 1814 - First exploratory trip aboard “Active” to set up a Mission in Bay of Islands
    • June 19 Kendall leads a church service aboard “Active”, attended by Maori leaders 
    • July returns to NSW accompanied by influential Maori chiefs Hongi Hika and Ruatara
    • Appointed first J.P. for New Zealand by NSW Governor, Macquarie, 12 November 1814

Rev. Samuel Marsden’s party arrives Bay of Islands, December 1814**

    • Arrives back in Bay of Islands mid-December 1814, with Samuel Marsden and others
    • 5 prisoners, seamen-deserters, held by Kendall in Bay of Islands and sent to Sydney in 1815 
    • 1815:  wrote “New Zealander’s First Book” published in Sydney - first Maori words in print
    • With J. L. Nicholas and Maori chiefs, in 1815, signed the sale of the first plot of land in N.Z. 
    • Started first school in Rangihoua, August, 1816
    • Made an unauthorised visit to London in 1820 with chiefs Hongi Hika and Waikato
    • Met Charles H. P. de Thierry in the UK and agreed to buy land for him in Bay of Islands   
    • Kendall is ordained a priest in England in November 1820, his licence limited to N.Z.
    • Collaborated with Professor S. Lee at Cambridge on his book about the Maori language…
    • … “A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Language of New Zealand” is published in 1820.
    • De Thierry’s fantastic plan to colonise NZ is revealed, based on land purchased by Kendall
    • July 1821 – Kendall returns to Bay of Islands 
    • He has an affair with Tungaroa, a tohunga’s daughter: his wife elopes with a convict-servant 
    • Sought favours with the natives by condoning trading land and firearms with them
    • Was gifted a tract of land by Maoris (for De Thierry?) provided Kendall would reside there
    • August 1822 he is dismissed from the Church Missionary Society, but remains in NZ
    • In August 1823 Marsden returns to NZ to personally banish Kendall…
    • ….but his wife takes him back and they continue living at Matauwhi, away from the Station 
    • In 1825 the Kendall family leaves New Zealand for missionary work in Valparaiso, Chile 
    • In 1827 the family returns to NSW where he receives a land grant at Kiama and farms 
    • Died 1832, presumed drowned when “Brisbane” foundered at Shoalhaven River, NSW 
    • 1837- De Thierry arrives in NZ bombastically styled as "Charles, by the grace of God, Sovereign Chief of New Zealand" only to find Maori are disputing the land which Kendall said he had purchased on De Thierry’s behalf***. Instead, De Theirry bought land at Hokianga, again “the start of a colony” with France’s permission. The intiative salled, and then curtailed, when British sovereignty over New Zealand followed the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

* Kendall from "The chiefs Waikato and Hongi Hika with misssionary Thomas Kendall in England" oil, by James Barry, 1820. Alexander Turnbull Library Wellington, New Zealand (ref G-618) 

 **   Artist unknown, engraving, 1913. Marsden, J. B. : Life and work of Samuel Marsden. Christchurch, Whitcombe & Tombs, 1913. Ref: PUBL-0158-76. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22412925

***   Dr John Dunmore Lang in his 4th letter to Rt Hon Lord Durham



Members' Login

Need Help?