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Magna Carta: A Celebration

Ric Carlyon - Monday, May 11, 2015

Updating the story leading to the Magna Carta and news of a special church service to celebrate the signing of the document 800 years ago.

A special service celebrating the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta will be held at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell on Sunday 14th June at 5pm.  

The Story so far... King John of England has met stalemate. His conciliatory negotiations with barons have failed. The rebellious gentry continue to maintain that the King has repeatedly exceeded reasonable authority, unfairly over-taxing them. Angry, they had gathered support and in May 1215 their opposition sparked civil war and they gained control of London. This encouraged others to join those opposing the King.

Mediation has bombed, antagonism mounts, and unrest has already turned ugly.  

So, 800 years ago King John was cornered and looked for a way out. He suggested arbitration to be led by the Pope. But the rebels rejected this. So the King looked to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, who had been in preliminary talks with the opposing barons.

“Papal arbitration’s obviously not going to work, so see if you can organise placatory peace talks” the King suggested to the Archbishop.

So about now... this month 800 years ago, the Archbishop was busy persuading the rebels to get around the table, using as an ‘agenda’ for the meeting an old Charter, never implemented, which curtailed Royal powers. The venue for the talks was carefully selected…near both the royal Windsor Castle and the rebel’s stronghold at Staines. Runnymede seemed perfect and the date selected was 10th June.

Would the parties show up? Well, they did and presented the King with the old Charter, amended and dressed up as “Articles of the Barons”. The Archbishop’s skills in mediation, severely exercised over 10 days, resulted in agreement, ultimately the Grant Charter, the Magna Carta. It was signed by all parties on the 15th June 1215 after which the rebels called off all opposition, swearing allegiance to King John.     

Scrawled on parchment in Latin and affirmed by the Monarch’s waxed seal, the Magna Carta promised the protection of church rights and ensured the monarch was subject to the rule of law. It safeguarded barons from illegal imprisonment, gave access to swift justice for all, and limited feudal payments to the Crown.

Ideas of freedom and democracy in the Magna Carta, and the rule of law to which all are subject, are significant today and its tenets have been included in constitutions around the globe. As the cornerstone of British Justice, the Magna Carta is reflected in due process in New Zealand:  close to the work all Justices of the Peace carry out in their daily duties.  

A special service celebrating the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta will be held at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell on Sunday 14th June at 5pm. Justices of the Peace will be welcome.  

Anzac: Centennial

Ric Carlyon - Monday, May 11, 2015

We Are Remembering Them 

A reminder that we have already remembered, through the service of 3 Justices of the Peace, those who enlisted and served their country during World War One.

The title on our Home Page will lead directly to the three chosen JPs, each with remarkable war-time service: William Forrest who went to the front aged 60, Reginald Evatt who served in the Boer War, World War One and World War Two and John A. Lee, decorated then seriously injured in France.

We are remembering them! 

Auckland's New Justices of the Peace

Ric Carlyon - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

4 Justices of the Peace were recently sworn in at the Auckland District Court before Judge Philippa Cunningham. 

They’re Peter John Barnett, Northpark: Molly Ann Roberts, Mt Albert: Suzanne Christine Teague, Dannemora and Minisita Kesi Vaai from Avondale.  

All 4 appointees swore their two oaths - Peter Barnett and Molly Roberts in both English and Te Reo. 

Molly has become a J.P. after long service with the Ministry of Justice in Auckland… there was added colour to the ceremony when her former colleagues attended to witness her swearing-in and added a flourish with waiata.

Meet our Support Groups

Ric Carlyon - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Beginning a periodic feature… a look at some of our Support Groups...
First up it’s Waiheke Island introduced by local Coordinator, Gillian Reeve.

Our Waiheke Island Support Group started up in January last year as a meet-and-greet social gathering to find out 'who's who' in our area. Initially on paper there were 22 Justices of the Peace on Waiheke but the contact list was very out-of-date, so we've had a sort-out to establish who is still on the island, who's left the island, who's new to the island etc. It's great having a clearly defined, small area and a water boundary that can't leak into any other suburb!

It's been a stuttering and faltering start in many ways. As with other Support Groups we have a long-term and ongoing problem - i.e. some Justices of the Peace have never once been to a meeting (or, in some instances, even bothered to reply to Support Group emails). They appear to be inactive and are certainly not up-to-date with training and all the changes in today's world (certifying of electronic documents, online learning etc) yet they continue in the community, appointed but not capable of proper public service, untrained and out of touch.

Nevertheless, we've continued meeting socially, at a dinner gathering, every 3 months, and at these gatherings we've covered any business / planning in an informal way and have sometimes had a guest speaker - the local police sergeant for example and, in January 2015, our local MP Nikki Kaye.
Every 3 months, alternating with the dinners at 6-weekly intervals, we have a training session on a Sunday morning at the Oneroa CAB with a trainer who visits from the outskirts of Waiheke (Auckland City !) as part of the Active and Trained initiative.
One clear 'hiccup' is that many of those who aren't active in our group are younger Justices of the Peace who have long work-hours, including weekends, either in Auckland or on Waiheke. Some have never been to a Support Group meeting or to a training session or offered for the Service Desk roster. It's all very well saying we need more young Justices of the Peace, but if they're virtually never available because of work commitments, wouldn't it be better value to appoint older, more available people, even if for a shorter time ?

It’s a pity more do not attend our Group’s activities, especially training, to maintain their confidence and competency to serve the community. So it’s good that a few Waiheke Justices of the Peace have opted to resign recently, possibly in response to a letter from MP Nikki Kaye asking their intentions. 

Our main success story however, has been the establishment of a Service Desk which now operates every Saturday morning at the Oneroa CAB from 10-12 noon. Whereas before it was left solely to the manager of the CAB (also a Justice of the Peace) the Saturday morning duties are now rostered.  One of our members is doing great work towards getting publicity for this in the local newspapers.

       A trio of J.P.s at Waiheke's Service Desk at the CAB in Oneroa: L-R Lomond Brown, Greg Ogg and Gillian Reeve

Waiheke Justices of the Peace made the 'big time' recently when, with much-appreciated assistance from Roger Brookes to get the wording right,  we were delighted to have the remit below accepted by the Auckland Association then forwarded to the National Conference in Takapuna, where it passed ! Now the Ministry of Justice will be asked to act on it.

At our last meeting it was agreed to try a more formal approach, so a meeting format will be followed for the April 29th meeting at the CAB in Oneroa at 7pm, with a get-together and bite to eat at the Oneroa Boating Club (restaurant) beforehand for those who would like to continue the social connection.

New Service Desk at Devonport

Ric Carlyon - Monday, April 20, 2015

A new Service Desk opens today at Devonport, situated in the new library on the waterfront in the heart of the harbour suburb. Justices of the Peace will be available at the library every Monday afternoon between noon and 2 p.m.

The Devonport Support Group, sponsor and organiser of the new Desk, has been anxious to provide this service for their community but with the demolition of the old public library JPs lost an appropriate “home” to set up in. With the new 7.8 million dollar library opened, the Support Group made arrangements to establish a Desk. Library staff  members have welcomed the move.

“We are still a small group” says Support Group Coordinator, Jo Cliffe, “but the Service Desk will give a whole new focus for us all”.

(JPs may be lucky enough to meet Benjamin, the Library's resident cat, who in this State of the Art Library has his personal micro-chipped cat-door!)

47 Years’ Service Rewarded

Ric Carlyon - Friday, April 17, 2015

West Auckland Justices of the Peace have honoured one of their long-time members, Assid Corban, O.B.E., J.P. who has retired from Ministerial Duties after 47 years’ service. 

Mr Corban, accompanied by wife Miriam, was guest of honour at this week’s meeting of the West Auckland J.P.s’ Support Group where Immediate Past President of the Auckland JP Association, David Grove, presented him with his Justice of the Peace - Retired badge. 

Peter King, organiser of the Group, paid tribute to Assid Corban’s significant and long-serving contribution to West Auckland, not only as J.P. for 47 years but as Mayor and Councillor of the old Henderson Borough and then as first Mayor of Waitakere City in 1989 and other positions under the new administration. 

Local MP Alfred Ngaro conveyed messages of thanks and goodwill from local MP Paula Bennett and the Prime Minister, John Key. Assid Corban, replying, thanked all those who had given him opportunities to provide service to West Auckland communities throughout his adult life and he paid tribute to his wife, Miriam, for her enduring support.  

Assid Corban, O.B.E., Justice of the Peace Retired

Auckland's New Justices of the Peace

Ric Carlyon - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Auckland has 12 new Justices of the Peace, a group recently sworn in at the Auckland District Court by Judge Philip Recordon, accompanied on the bench by the Association’s President, Mr Colin Davis J.P.
The new Justices of the Peace are Inderjeet Bajwa of Dannemora, Jannette Brown of Shamrock Park, Des Dunlop of East Tamaki, Fiona Fenwick of Dairy Flat, Penelope Henning of Somerville, Judith Hounsell of Ormiston, Virginia Lesoa of Favona, William Peace of Mangere East, Leiola Pelesikoti of Otara, Sara Reid of Cockle Bay, Michael Sommerville of Beachlands and Norman Stacey of Glen Innes.
Thirty-three friends and family members of the 12 appointees also attended, along with the Association’s Representative to the Royal Federation, Mrs Wallis Walker J.P. and the Association’s Registrar, Roger Brookes, J.P.

Following the ceremony and before refreshments were served each appointee was presented with a Swearing In pack containing a signed Royal Federation Justice of the Peace certificate, a Royal Federation Justice of the Peace badge, a Justice of the Peace gate plate,  a Justice of the Peace identifier stamp and  a letter from the Association containing key information for new Justices of the Peace.
Part of the letter directs the appointee to their local Justices of the Peace support group where they will be assigned a mentor who'll arrange the appointee’s rostering at a service desk where, over several sessions, the first eight hours of providing services to the public will be with an experienced member of the Association.
In this way the Association helps the new Justice of the Peace achieve its “Active and Trained” initiative before being listed in the “Find a JP” website directory.

Our History Recorded in New Book

Ric Carlyon - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The ‘Year of the Justice of the Peace", during which we celebrated 200 years of Justices of Peace in New Zealand, has been appropriately crowned with publication of a book tracing our history.

“Reading the Riot Act*, A 200 Year History of Justices of the Peace in New Zealand” by Philip Harkness chronicles the days of the first J.P., Thomas Kendall, and other early Justices (this chapter’s subtitled ‘Rough Justice’) through to the present day. The story ends with challenges supporting the case for non-partisan appointments of Justices of the Peace and greater deployment of Justices of the Peace to relieve the workload in District Courts.

Dr Philip Harkness is very well-positioned to write the book: his thesis was about New Zealand’s lay magistracy, he’s been a Justice of the Peace for more than 50 years during which time he has undertaken both Judicial duties on the Bench and Ministerial duties. He’s a former President of Waikato Justices of the Peace Association and is a Life Member of the Auckland Association.  He says in the Preface that this account is “not intended as an academic treatise but rather as a wide-ranging account of the adoption and development in New Zealand of British common justice…”
Philip Harkness has achieved his objective with an easily read text, accompanied by illustrations, telling the story, warts-and-all, from the earliest days of colonisation.

The book is dedicated to the memory of Henry Augustus Thompson, a young Justice of the Peace who was brutally murdered on June 17th 1843 in the execution of his duty at the infamous Wairau Massacre. The book is also in recognition of countless Justices of the Peace who over 200 years have served the New Zealand public in many ways.

*The Riot Act which helps give the book its title was, until 1961, New Zealand law providing for a J.P. to warn off members of unruly crowds, assemblies or gatherings, ordering them to disperse. Those who interfered with the Justice of the Peace reading the Riot Act might he imprisoned, along with anyone lingering in assembly more than an hour after the Riot Act was read. Philip Harkness also points out in his book that any Justice of the Peace who declined to read the Riot Act was also liable to a term of imprisonment!

Copies of “Reading the Riot Act” are available from the Registrar, Roger Brookes and arrangements can be made to pay the cost, $30, by direct credit on-line.

Diversity… Conference Topic: Reality in Auckland

Ric Carlyon - Monday, March 16, 2015

Cultural diversity was interwoven with the theme “The Changing Skyline of Justice” at the recent Justices of the Peace Conference in Auckland, and the fact that, increasingly, this diversity will impact on services undertaken by Justices of the Peace. One speaker said that Justices of the Peace in Auckland are already well aware of the many different communities and peoples, and warned that it won’t be long before different ethnicities are evident in other New Zealand cities and towns.

Now a recently-released report by Doug McKay, former Auckland Council Chief Executive, underlines Auckland’s diversity.

“Europeans make up only half the Auckland population,” the report says, “with  Asian and Pacific people comprising a larger share of the population than Maori. 65 per cent of Pacifika community lives in Auckland. Immigration has contributed to this diversity: almost 40 per cent of Aucklanders were born overseas (the highest rate in the OECD)”.

The McKay Report notes that one-third Aucklanders speak a language other than English.

“Asians will grow by 130,000 in 7 years to 2021 and they are projected to comprise half of Auckland’s population growth in the next 20 years and Pacific people 22 per cent”.  McKay points out that Auckland is a Pacific Rim City, and an Asian one.  

The McKay report backs up facts about diversity given in an address to Justices of the Peace last year by Bruce Adin of the Ministry of Education: already 180 different ethnicities attend Auckland schools. He, too, advised that people from different communities would impact on whom Justices of the Peace will be seeing and services being sought. 

Conference News

Ric Carlyon - Thursday, March 12, 2015

Report from the Organising Committee
The recent Royal Federation of Justices Associations’ Annual General Meeting and Conference at Takapuna was successful because of a philosophy confirmed early-on by the organising committee… “that around the business of the AGM there must be relevant and interesting guest speakers, seminars (rather than workshops) that engage participants and then clear opportunities for social interaction”.
That’s the view of Chairman of the Conference Organising Committee, Vice President of the Auckland Justices of the Peace Association, Selwyn Haworth, in a report to the Association’s Council.
“Around the 4 hours allocated to the Royal Federation during the weekend or its formal business, we
successfully scheduled a conference which was interesting to delegates, observers and visitors alike”, Selwyn says “and we have received dozens of compliments, and no complaints, about the programme”.
Many delegates praised the calibre and variety of guest speakers: they included the Prime Minister, Minister and local MP Maggie Barry, lawyer/author  Mai Chen, District Court Judges, the Mayor of Auckland and Secretary for Justice.
Social events eclipsed on the Saturday night when a total of 210 Board members, delegates, observers and their partners attended the Gala Dinner at Spencer on Byron on the Saturday night.  
Selwyn Haworth's report also includes observations and hints about the running of these events and, suggests to Royal Federation several options for future Conferences. “Whatever” he says, “we are very willing to share all the information we have to assist future organising teams”.

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