Members’ bill to make it easier to become a celebrant

Thursday, October 22, 2015

National List MP based in the Hutt Valley, Chris Bishop, today announced he will lodge a Members’ bill in the Parliamentary ballot to make it easier to become an independent marriage and civil union celebrant.

“Independent marriage and civil union celebrants perform an important role in society, but every year people are turned down from becoming celebrants because their applications do not meet a reasonably strict statutory test that their application is ‘in the interest of the public generally, or of a particular community (whether defined by geography, interest, belief or some other factor)’.

“By definition, if someone wishes to be a celebrant, they already meet the needs of at least some part of the community. The Celebrant Eligibility Expansion Bill will ensure that, so long as an applicant meets the ‘good character’ requirements of the existing Acts, they will be approved as an independent celebrant.

“The demand for independent celebrants is steadily rising and it is right that we proactively respond by making it easier to become a celebrant,” says Mr Bishop.

Over 60% of marriages and funerals are now officiated by independent celebrants, but there are only 2,300 independent celebrants compared to 7,413 celebrants from religious (or other organisational) backgrounds.

“There is also a regional disparity in the availability of independent celebrants. Auckland is well catered for with 641, whereas Northern Wairarapa have only 7, and South Westland only 2. Making it easier to become a celebrant will allow more celebrants in rural areas.

“The Bill will not allow a free for all. Applicants will need to demonstrate that they are of good character and that they will conscientiously perform the duties of a marriage celebrant, the existing statutory tests.”