This year’s conference, which concluded yesterday in Blenheim, had the very appropriate theme “Quality Justice – a Fine Vintage”. A development to this message came through long and clear before the Conference closed – “Justices of the Peace must keep up to date, remain active and be ready to have their competency monitored and enhanced”.
Here’s how the theme developed over the weekend’s discussions:
Royal Federation’s Board: its Strategic Plan promotes “excellence in the provision of accessible services”.
Associate Minister of Justice, Hon Aupito William So: in his video greetings to Conference, “…I endorse plans that will result in enhanced competencies for all Justices of the Peace.
Royal Federation President, Rachael O’Grady: “ …we must continue to ensure all Justices acknowledge their responsibility to their community and are accountable for their efficiency”.
Guest Speaker, Chief Justice of New Zealand, Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias: “In the changing environment there’ll be no reduction in Justice of the Peace duties so the emphasis has to be on continuing training and accessibility which over the years will require huge efforts by the Federation and local Associations”.
Guest Speaker, Judge Sir David Carruthers: “… it’s essential to keep up your training and professionalism to stay at the top of your game. The community has an expectation and Justices must, through constant training, be able to meet the changing environment, amended legislation and today’s diversity.
Speaker, Immediate Past President, Denise Hutchins: adding her own pou whenua: “…I’m quite determined to see a system which ensures compulsory ongoing competency for all Justices of the Peace, and I’m going to see it in my lifetime!”
This topic carried on in two remits discussed at Conference. At one end of the spectrum the first remit wants consideration of on-line training for Justices of the Peace and the second, at the other end, suggested guidelines be developed around implementation of that part in the Justices of the Peace Act which provides for removal or suspension from office of those neglecting or refusing to perform duties. Both remits were passed.