Country’s youngest JP sworn in

New Zealand’s youngest JP Bronson Blackbourn (second from right) at the swearing-in ceremony with...
New Zealand’s youngest JP Bronson Blackbourn (second from right) at the swearing-in ceremony with (from left) fellow inductee Bruce Cowan, Otago JP Association president John Campbell, and Otago JP Association registrar Helen Meiklejohn. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A dedication to community service has led Dunedin man Bronson Blackbourn (21) to step up and be sworn in as New Zealand’s youngest Justice of the Peace (JP).

Mr Blackbourn was sworn in last week at a ceremony in the Dunedin courthouse, joining fellow community-minded local Bruce Cowan among the ranks of the city’s JPs.

Otago JP Association president John Campbell was delighted to have added the country’s youngest JP to the ranks.

"Bronson is very active in the community, so becoming a JP is a great next step — I see him as the future of JPs," Mr Campbell said.

There was a shortage of JPs, particularly younger people, so it was a real boost to welcome Mr Blackbourn, and also Mr Cowan, to the fold, he said.

The main role of JPs is to assist people in the community by witnessing official documents, statutory declarations or affidavits, and certifying copies of original documents.

There are also Judicial JPs, who take an active role at the District Court.

The youngest of eight children, Mr Blackbourn grew up in Milton and has been a keen contributor to the community, in both Milton and Dunedin, for as long as he can remember.

"Applying to become a JP was the natural next step in giving back to a community that has already given so much to me," he said.

Taking a year off from studying Politics and Human Resource Management at the University of Otago, Mr Blackbourn took on a position with St John Community Engagement, working remotely for the Auckland District.

This is in addition to his role as MP support for Dunedin MP Dr David Clark.

He is also active in community volunteering, including St John NZ Divisional Youth manager, Dunedin Curtain Bank and the Department of Internal Affairs COGS grants scheme.

As a new JP, Mr Blackbourn will be involved in some of the association’s JP Service Desks around Dunedin, working alongside experienced JPs to gain knowledge.

"It can take up to 12 months for a JP to get up to speed, so we ensure there is always someone experienced available to mentor them," Mr Campbell said.

"We are a very supportive network."

The JP Service Desks had been suspended for a time, at the height of the pandemic, but were now operating as normal, he said.

JP Service Desks

Monday

11.30am-1.30pm — Community House, Moray Pl.

4.30pm-7pm — Dunedin Public Library

Tuesday

11am-1pm — South Dunedin Library pop-up, Hillside Rd

Wednesday

9am-3pm — Otago Museum

Thursday

1pm-3pm — South Dunedin Library pop-up, Hillside Rd

Friday

10am-12.30pm — Dunedin Public Library

Saturday

11am-1pm — North East Valley Project community hub

brenda.harwood@thestar.co.nz

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