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Serving the people . . . Clare Kearney is excited about taking on her new role as a JP. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

North Otago identity Clare Kearney is excited about starting in her role as a Justice of the Peace for the Waitaki District.

Originally from Dunedin, she moved to North Otago with her husband after they shared a mutual love for the area.

She has a farming background with a degree in agricultural science, majoring in business management and dairy science.

“I think it’s just been a wonderful community to grow our family in – it’s a supportive and optimistic community.”

Recently, Mrs Kearney was sworn in as a new JP for the district.

Part of acquiring the role was showing the Ministry of Justice and the JP association that she was committed to serving the community.

“What you need to do is show them that you have a commitment to the community that you’re in and be able to be supported by the community in your application.”

The application also had to be supported by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, after which a nomination went through the Ministry of Justice, and a recommendation was put in from the JP Association.

Mrs Kearney was optimistic her new role would work in well with the busy life she led.

“It’s an important role within the community.”

Mrs Kearney is no stranger to community service.

She is the chairwoman of Sport Otago and the Waitaki Safer Community Trust, and is a former chairwoman of Network Waitaki. She is also a board member of South Port (Bluff).

She wanted to thank her family, friends and the JP Association for the encouragement they gave to help her into the role.

Her advice to those who wanted to join the service was to chat to someone who had already served as a JP.

“If people are interested in becoming a JP, there is a pathway to do that in the community.”

She was inspired by the efforts of Oamaru man Gilbert Ellery, a former JP who served for over 30 years before retiring recently.

Mrs Kearney was unsure if she would serve as a JP for that long – but she would give it her best shot.

“I’m really interested, and one of the things that other JPs have said is that you get to meet a lot of interesting people in the community. I’m really looking forward to that.”