Being a JP for half a century!

Ernie Adams has served as a JP in Mount Maunganui for 50 years. Photo: Bob Tulloch.

Although he wasn’t keen on the job at first, Ernie Adams has notched up five decades as a Justice of the Peace.

And 50 years ago, the job was a bit grittier than it is today.

The octogenarian was 36 years old when he was nominated to serve as a JP in Mount Maunganui.

“I was recommended by the church, by the harbour board at the time, and the mayor of Mount Maunganui,” says Ernie.

“I was a bit reluctant just because I thought they could get somebody better than me.

"As that old story goes I had so many people want to nominate me – I talked myself into a corner so I couldn’t refuse.”

This led to a 50-year legacy of serving as a JP.

From witnessing of documents, hearing cases in district court, to signing papers to release deceased persons – Ernie has done it all as a JP.

“I’ve encountered nearly everything.”

Bay of Plenty JP Association president Colette Hintz says JPs did all sorts 50 years ago, when Ernie was first appointed a JP.

“Part of a JP’s duty was loads of things like riot control,” says Colette.

“They were the mainstay of the district. They could act as judge as well in court cases.

"They had quite a lot of powers.”

During this time, Colette says there wasn’t coroners so when someone died, police would have papers signed either by a solicitor or a JP.

“For the uplifting of a body to take away for burial, cremation, as well as in hospitals as the person passed away – within the first 24 hours of being admitted, the doctors had to fill out a form and then the funeral directors would get a JP to sign papers to release the body to the funeral directors.”

Having seen a lot of change in his time as a JP, Ernie says:

“I’ve enjoyed the job, enjoyed the people I’ve met, enjoyed being able to help the people in doing their work, doing their documents, and felt satisfied that everything was being done correctly for them and everything was okay”.

Next Wednesday, May 15, Ernie and other longstanding JPs from the Bay of Plenty will be presented with certificates at Mount Maunganui RSA by Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell to honour their service.

Ernie says the thing that’s kept him volunteering all of this time as a JP is the people.

“I’ve met all sorts of people from professional people, ordinary people, and politicians.

"Everybody was welcome at my door.”

So how does he feel about reaching 50 years of service?

“It just seemed to come along really. I was always doing it and always available.

"I just did the job and found that I could handle it all right.”

And when he wasn’t carrying out his JP duties, Ernie worked as boilermaker/welder, as secretary treasurer for the Mount Maunganui Waterside Workers Union and was an active member of the Arataki Residents’ Association.

“I used to walk around the streets until 10 o’clock at night talking to neighbours, talking to people, asking how they were thinking, what they would like … then I’d put the arguments forward on their behalf.”

At 86, Ernie is not planning to give up his JP service anytime soon.

“You can retire now, but when I stood for it, it was a lifetime appointment. I still carry a warrant.

“I intend to continue … I’ve done it for so long that it’s part of me.”

Other dedicated Bay of Plenty residents recognised for their Justice of the Peace service include:

Graeme Norm Hayley – 40 years of JP service 

Lived in Tauranga all his life and worked in the motor industry all his working life starting as an apprentice mechanic and ending as General Manager of large car dealerships. 

Was a member of the JC’s (Junior Chamber) which is a leadership training service organization and civic organization for people between the ages of 18 years to 40 years old. 

Him and his wife who is now deceased were very involved with volunteering at their children’s schools when they were school age. 

Robin David Reid – 40 years of JP service 

Dairy farmer for 60 years before retiring. 

Voted in as Councilor for Piako County Council in 1978 served unpaid for 12 years, his constituent was Te Aroha Riding (riding meaning the area that a person could ride a horse in one day)  

Other voluntary work includes - serving as President of the Waikato Justice of the Peace Association, being on the Board of Federated Farmers, JC’s, Rotary and is now the President of Probus Bethlehem Club 

Les Wereta Millard – 30 years of JP service 

Brought up in Tokoroa, studied Education at Waikato University to become a teacher then moved to Mount Maunganui to connect with his grandfather’s whakapapa and tribal connections. 

Voluntary works include trustee for Moari Land Trusts, part of cultural advisory group for Papamoa Hills, tribal advisory for BOP Regional Council and Tauranga City Council for the development of Taylors Reserve. 

Thomas Wiriha Tapsel (Willie) – 30 years of JP service 

Born and bred in Maketu. 

Trained as a builder doing his apprenticeship in Trentham in Wellington, built houses and schools around the Wellington area, married his wife Judy in 1966 and had 4 children. 

Moved to Tokoroa and worked at the paper mill as a maintenance carpenter for 16 years before returning to Maketu.

Norm Bennett, a Justice of the Peace shoulder tapped him and mentored him to become a JP 

Board of Trustees Chairperson on both Maketu Primary School and Te Puke High School 

Has served many years and continues to serve on the Maketu Marae Committee 

One of the inaugural board members of the Maketu Community Board 

Committee member of the 1990 Centenary celebration of Maketu 

Gillian Elizabeth Palmer (Gill) – 30 years of JP service  

Born in Morrinsville in the Waikato has been living on Matakana Island for the last 20 years. 

Has worked on the island at Te Awanui Hauora Trust which provides medical and social services to the islanders. 

Has been a volunteer probation officer. 

Helped at Piako Community Whanau Trust giving the island community social services such as alternative education for children at risk. 

Bruce Henry Woods – 30 years of JP service 

Born in Otakere near Edgecumbe 

Studied at Massey University gaining a Dairy Farming Diploma 

Dairy farmer for many years 

Went on Young Farmers exchange to Canada and Switzerland and learnt to speak Swiss German fluently. 

Was a member of Young Farmers 

Involved in loval A&P shows and calf club. 

Has been volunteering with Federated Farmers (is a past President) and been on the board of Balance Fertiliser 

A keen runner who competed in the 800 to 1500 distance (basically a long sprint) when younger, only runs for pleasure now.  

Volunteers as a graded official for Athletics NZ travelling around NZ to officiate races. 

Glenis Ellen Murray – 30 years JP service 

Brought up in Rotorua then moved to Maketu. 

Worked at Maketu Post Office where the Maketu community encouraged her to become a Justice of the Peace. 

Retired after 35 years in the Post Office which was 18 years ago now and has continued to serve the community through her work as a Justice of the Peace 

Laurence William Young (Lauri) – Taking Retired Status after 25 years of service. 

Born in Whangarea, Kawa Kawa, moved to Morrinsville worked at the fertiliser works then moved to Tauranga and worked in menswear for 46 years first at Bay Outfitters before opening his own store “Lauri Youngs Menswear” where he opened the first unofficial service desk with son Tony who also became a JP serving the public out of the shop before official service desks were created from their idea. 

Served 9 years on the Main Street Managers Board as Chair 

On the committee for Beautification of the town working with Tauranga City Council 

25 years after opening his shop he retired and now enjoys boating and fishing in his spare time. 

Robin Blackett – Taking Retired Status after 42 years of JP service. 

Born in Otorohanga, moved to Petone Wellington to train as a pharmacist where he met and married his wife who also trained as a pharmacist. 

Then spent 8 years in Murapara where he was approached by the local dignitaries to become a Justice of the Peace 

Moved to Te Puke in 1984, bought and developed their own Pharmacy. Although being busy he always found time to see JP clients throughout his workdays 

Retired 7 years ago and sold the Pharmacy but continued to serve his community as a JP from his home. 

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