New Zealand Law Society - JPs at the forefront of marriages in Waikato

JPs at the forefront of marriages in Waikato

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Justices of the Peace are performing more marriage and civil union ceremonies in Hamilton, following a collaboration between the Ministry of Justice’s Hamilton Registry team, the Courts and Tribunals Operations Support team, the Royal Federation of NZ JPs and the Waikato JP Association.

“There was incredible enthusiasm from JPs to do this,” says Andrea Haines, President of the Waikato JP Association, “JPs are all about the personal touch – this is another way to serve the community.”

Ms Haines says the initiative helps harness the people skills and legal experience that many JPs have, and frees up time for Registry staff to support other customers. About 250 registry office ceremonies are conducted in Hamilton each year; the most of any court registry in the country and more than 15% of the annual total.

The next court looking to involve more JPs in Registry Office ceremonies is Tauranga, which performed 157 ceremonies in 2016 – the next busiest court registry office. A similar arrangement is already established in the District Court at Waitakere.

“JPs often deal with members of the public and their legal documents, and it’s nice to bring these skills to a special time in peoples’ lives,” says Julie Jopson, Service Manager, District Courts for the Central Region. “Weddings are pretty special. Even though registry ceremonies are pretty short and sweet, it still has the same effect on peoples’ lives.”

Orientation training was run by two of the Hamilton team for the ten Hamilton JPs who put their names forward to provide this service. The JPs were authorised by the Registrar-General (DIA) under the Marriage Act (1955) to provide the service.

Marriage and Civil Union ceremonies in New Zealand:

  • In 2016, 20,235 marriages and civil unions were registered to New Zealand residents.
  • Of these, 1610 occurred in the 36 court registries authorised by the Department of Internal Affairs to provide this service (BDM registries).
  • Most Registry ceremonies take around 30-40 minutes, including issuing paperwork.