The end of an era has been marked with the recent retirement of Oamaru man Gilbert Ellery, who can look back at 33 interesting years of serving the community as a Justice of the Peace.
Mr Ellery became a JP in the mid-1980s.
He followed in the footsteps of his father, also a long-serving JP.
“My father did it before me – a long time before me.”
To commemorate his retirement, Mr Ellery was presented with a certificate by the Royal Federation of New Zealand Justices’ Associations for his service to the community.
Mr Ellery said the role of a JP had changed over the years.
It was easier to become a JP years ago, he said.
“It’s totally different to what it is now. You just signed papers – you didn’t have to have training or anything.”
Every so often in the early days, a police officer would randomly turn up on his doorstep needing signatures for various legal documents.
“It didn’t worry me,” he said.
Working as a JP allowed him to meet people he would not have met in a normal job.
“It’s been very interesting. You meet a terrific variety of people.”
In his professional life, Mr Ellery worked as an engineer.
During work hours, clients would arrive with their documents.
“They could come to my workshop and gets things signed off.
“It’s really not an imposing thing on you – although some days it could be.”
If people wanted to take on the role of a JP, they needed to have an open mind, he said.
It wasn’t until recently that Mr Ellery finally decided it was time to retire.
“Thirty-three years is long enough,” he joked.
Now aged 82 he looked forward to doing many of the things he loved, including fishing, duck-shooting, and driving in his classic Bedford truck.