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Cosgrove: Speech Honouring NZ's Oldest JP

Tues 28 Feb, 2006 Speech

Associate Minister of Justice, MP, Hon Clayton Cosgrove speech to honour Mr Mick Goldsbro' - the country's longest serving and oldest Justice of the Peace (JP) - and to launch a CD-ROM training tool for new JPs.

Venue and time: 10.30am, the High Court in Hamilton, Hearing Room 4

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, members of the Royal Federation of Justices Associations, Hamilton West MP Martin Gallagher, Mr Goldsbro' and his family, and other distinguished guests. It is a great pleasure to be here this morning in my capacity as Associate Minister of Justice to acknowledge and pay tribute to the outstanding service provided by Justices of the Peace in New Zealand, and to formally launch their new CD-ROM, which will become a significant training tool for them.

We are all aware of the role played by JPs in our communities, and seeing representatives of the Courts, Police and Corrections services here today, serves as a reminder of the diverse roles JPs play and the wide variety of agencies within the Justice sector their work involves.

I want to reiterate to you all the Government’s appreciation for the invaluable work carried out by Justices of the Peace. Through your voluntary commitment, you all make an outstanding contribution to our communities and the New Zealand justice system.

Justices of the Peace, as lay people, help to maintain a link between the justice system and the wider community. To have respected members of the community as a point of contact within the justice system provides it with a human face that otherwise might be lacking.

The commitment JPs make by giving up time that could be spent with family or friends to work within the community is noble and serves as an inspiration to us all. And it is one man's commitment in particular that we are here to acknowledge today.

Mick Goldsbro', was born 101 years ago. He was appointed a JP on August 29, 1940 when he was employed as the county clerk in Kawhia.

At that time, the central North Island was a world away from what it is today. The local Kawhia policeman didn't have a car to get around in, and instead travelled on horseback while carrying out his duties. Mr Goldsbro' filled a vital role in that community, adjudicating on the bench at the courthouse when required.

Over the next thirty odd years he remained a very active member of the JP family as he moved about the Waikato region, undertaking ministerial and judicial duties in Kawhia, Otorohanga and here in Hamilton.

In Otorohanga, cases would come before him involving sly-grogging in the “dry” King Country District. On occasion Mick was also the Coroner. In Hamilton, his office was very close to the Courthouse and the Police station. Consequently, he was generally first to be called when the services of a Justice of the Peace were required at either.

Mick finally retired from active JP work in the late 1960s. Yet he still remained actively involved in a variety of Waikato sporting and community groups. And consider this: during all these decades of voluntary service in the communities in which he lived, Mick and his late wife Olive also found time to raise two children - Judy and Ray, who are both here with their families today - as well as play golf down to a very respectable 16 handicap, play lawn bowls and be a member of both Hamilton Rotary and Probus.

What that record of service means ladies and gentlemen is that Mick Goldsbro’ is not only New Zealand’s oldest living JP but also our longest warranted JP, having held the appointment now for over 65 years.

Mick’s dedication to his communities is perhaps typical of many JPs, past and present, from all parts of this country. Ordinary New Zealanders prepared to sacrifice their time for the good of their community and their fellow citizens, performing their tasks without asking for thanks or recognition but serving their country in a noble and at times demanding calling.

I became aware of this man’s incredible record of service when I was first appointed to the Associate Justice portfolio and began researching the role of JPs in New Zealand. And I cannot think of anyone more suited than Mick Goldsbro' to help me launch JP training into a new and exciting direction.

But before I ask you, Mick, to assist me with the launch of the new training material, I would like to present you with a gift in recognition of your lifetime of service to the people of New Zealand.

I am told that one of Mick's favourite places is Rangitoto Island. Before moving to the Waikato, as a young man he used to take a St Heliers ferry to work every day in Auckland and gaze at Rangitoto Island, dominating the skyline. The island came to play a significant part in Mick’s life, as he climbed to its summit at least once a year, until well into his 90's.

Because you have been so special to the people of our country, I would like to present you with this photograph of something that has clearly been very special to you.

I came here today for two reasons - one to knowledge Mick Goldsbro's valued contribution, and the other to look to the future.

In doing so I would like to acknowledge one of the country's youngest JPs, 33-year-old Karen Hattaway, who has travelled down from Manukau today, to mark this occasion. Karen was appointed as a JP last year. She brings her years of experience as a victim support worker into the pool of talented young JPs ready to serve their communities and country. Thank you very much for coming along today, Karen.

Also looking to the future, I would like to introduce a new training tool for JPs.

Last year the Royal Federation and the Ministry of Justice, in conjunction with private training providers worked together to develop a CD ROM based training package for new JPs. The demand for such a resource came from within the JP community itself and reflected the diverse nature and changing lifestyles of New Zealanders who were becoming JPs.

The CD-ROM provides a standard nationwide package that will compliment the existing system where senior JPs in each region train new JPs. It provides greater consistency in JP training and also means JPs in remote areas who had trouble accessing training, or those who could not attend due to time constraints, can now get trained when and where it suits them, and at their own pace.

All New Zealanders will stand to benefit from the creation of this CD ROM and the enhanced levels of preparedness and professionalism it will deliver to JPs in all parts of the country. And let's not forget, JP's are the interface between the community and the Justice system. It is a sound investment and one I am proud to be associated with.

This training package has undergone extensive user testing by both recently appointed and experienced JPs, all of whom have found the package extremely user friendly and useful, not only to train new JPs but also to provide refresher training.

The CD ROM is loaded into the computer behind me and Royal Federation National Education Officer Valerie Redshaw is here to demonstrate the technology to you all once we have launched it. I would like to ask Mick Goldsbro' and Karen Hattaway to join me now to push the button and officially launch the new training package.

ENDS

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