- Nominees must have an adequate standard of education and a genuine desire to serve the community. They should be of good standing in the community (which is not to be identified with material prosperity), and should be respected as persons of good sense, character and integrity
- Although the office of Justice of the Peace is steeped in history, the office today derives its status and functions from a very brief statute of the New Zealand Legislature, the Justice of the Peace Act 1957.
- Nominees must hold permanent residency, but do not need to be New Zealand citizens
Briefly, the convention is as follows:
- Nominations for appointments are only accepted from the Member of Parliament for the electorate where the nominee resides, or from a list Member of Parliament with the endorsement of the appropriate electorate Member of Parliament.
- The purpose of an appointment is not to bestow an honour on a deserving citizen/permanent resident, but to serve the public. Notwithstanding a person's character and ability, appointments are made only where there are not already sufficient Justices to meet the requirements of the public.
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE: Appointment Process
A nomination having been made by the Member of Parliament, the procedure is as follows:
- The Ministry of Justice will obtain a confidential Criminal History check. Information relating to any criminal conviction is retained by the Minister of Justice or delegated Associate Minister and the Ministry of Justice.
- The Ministry of Justice will prepare and forward interview packages to the District Court Registrar and to the Royal Federation (to forward to the local Justices of the Peace Association).
- To assess the nominee's suitability, the nominee will be interviewed jointly by the local District Court Registrar and a representative from the local Justices of the Peace Association. After the interview, confidential reports will be prepared by the District Court Registrar and Justices of the Peace Association and forwarded to the Ministry of Justice.
- On receipt of the confidential reports, the Ministry of Justice will then prepare a report for the Minister of Justice or delegated Associate Minister's consideration of the suitability of the nominee. The report will request that the Minister of Justice or delegated Associate Minister either provisionally approve the nominee to undertake induction training for Ministerial Justices of the Peace or decline the nomination.
- If provisionally approved, the nominee will be sent self-study materials, which should be completed within four weeks. During this time the nominee will be contacted by an educator from the local association or Royal Federation.
- Upon successful completion of the induction training, the Minister of Justice will recommend that the Governor-General appoint the Justice of the Peace.
- The Secretary for Justice will arrange for the appointment to be published in the New Zealand Gazette.
- After the Minister of Justice and Governor-General sign the Warrant for Appointment, the nominee will be sworn in before a District Court Judge.
- Appointees are not entitled to act as Justices until they have taken the Oath of Allegiance and the Judicial Oath as required by the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 before a District Court Judge.The newly appointed Justice of the Peace will be issued with a warrant card.
- For many years it has been the policy of successive Ministers of Justice to decline to recommend for appointment as Justices, the members of certain professions or callings, because of their special duties and responsibilities. These include Members of Parliament, barristers and solicitors, practicing medical practitioners and persons working in various aspects of law enforcement. There has also been a general policy not to appoint members of the clergy and persons in religious orders.
Oaths of Office
- Justices have no authority to act until they have taken the oaths. Local Justice of the Peace Associations contact new appointees to arrange for a session followed by an appointment to see a District Court Judge, who will administer the oaths. There are two oaths, the Oath of Allegiance and the Judicial Oath.
The form of the Oath of Allegiance is:
• I. swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.
The form of the Judicial Oath is:
• I. swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors, according to law in the office of Justice of the Peace; and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of New Zealand, without fear or favour, affection or ill will. So help me God.