Other Judicial Officers

In addition to judges, other judicial officers have jurisdiction to hear cases in the District Court. These include Community Magistrates, Justices of the Peace and Registrars.

Community Magistrates

Community Magistrates are an important component of the District Court Judiciary. They are part-time judicial officers and preside over a wide range of less serious cases in the District Court’s criminal jurisdiction. Community Magistrates may deal with offences punishable by a fine of up to $40,000, and may sentence offenders who plead guilty to an offence punishable by up to three months’ imprisonment.

Picture of Community Magistrate Jan Holmes. Head and shoulders.My role as a Community Magistrate is a busy one. A Community Magistrate deals with many defendants for low-level offending who are sentenced on the day. Others need to have their bail determined and future appearances set. Every case is different, everyone must be treated with respect and a careful decision has to be made in each case.

The Community Magistrates are assisted in this decision making with input and teamwork from a wide range of people: prosecutors, counsel, probation staff, victim advisors, interpreters, restorative justice providers, forensic and security staff. Most important for the smooth running of the Court are the skills of the Court staff who carefully prepare the files and manage the daunting scheduling process.

Every day is different and the Court only finishes when all defendants have been seen.

Community Magistrate Jan Holmes

District Courts of New Zealand Annual Report 2015

Community Magistrates sit in the Northland, Auckland, Manukau, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Wairoa, New Plymouth and Whanganui courts. There are currently 16 Community Magistrates.

Community Magistrates (Current as at 16 March 2022)

Community Magistrate Terry Bourke
Community Magistrate Sherida Cooper
Community Magistrate Shaun Cole
Community Magistrate Brigid Corcoran
Community Magistrate Simon Heale
Community Magistrate Janet Holmes
Community Magistrate Lesley Jensen
Community Magistrate Philippa King
Community Magistrate Lauolefale Lemalu
Community Magistrate Ngaire Mascelle
Community Magistrate Lavinia Nathan
Community Magistrate Sally O’Brien
Community Magistrate Robyn Paterson
Community Magistrate Jo Sihamu
Community Magistrate Fenella Thomas
Community Magistrate Kathy Wilson

Justices of the Peace

Over 250 Judicial Justices of the Peace hear minor cases in the District Court. They may impose fines and some driving penalties (such as a licence disqualification). Justices of the Peace may also preside over some preliminary hearings, bail applications and requests for remands and adjournments.

Find out more about Justices of the Peace


Every District Court Registry has a Registrar. Many courts will also have several Deputy Registrars. These Registrars perform a wide range of administrative functions, and many also perform some judicial functions.


Disputes in the Disputes Tribunal are heard by Referees. Referees are appointed on the basis of their personal qualities, knowledge and experience. The Principal Disputes Tribunal Referee is Janet Robertshawe. 

Find out more about Referees