Local government

We are seen as a leader in local government law in New Zealand.  We provide strategic legal advice to regional and city councils throughout New Zealand. 


We help clients succeed in a complex environment

We are seen as a leader in local government law in New Zealand.

We understand that our clients are required to operate and demonstrate accountability in a complex political, financial and regulatory environment.

There is a growing need to:

  • Manage the pressure of growth
  • Pivot to meet sector reform and address risks early
  • Get ahead of regional issues
  • Reduce the risk of reputational damage.

Our superior technical legal skills support clients to successfully perform core functions that are required in this environment.

We help clients to create resilient communities, liveable cities, healthy environments and have prosperous economies.

We’re proven advisers in local government

We are principal legal adviser to the following councils:

  • Christchurch City Council
  • Selwyn District Council
  • Hurunui District Council.

We are specialist advisers to a number of other local councils around New Zealand including:

  • Auckland Council
  • Tauranga City Council
  • Nelson City Council
  • Hutt City Council
  • Waikato Regional Council
  • Marlborough District Council
  • South Waikato District Council.

We have provided project advice to other councils including Waitomo District Council, Matamata-Piako District Council and Taupō District Council.

We also advise local government entities including the Local Government Commission, and we advise the Department of Internal Affairs on local government policy issues.

Work highlights


We advised Greater Wellington Regional Council (flood protection and public transport through a new Melling train station), Hutt City Council (urban renewal of its CBD and integration with the new flood protection works), NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (a new Melling interchange and bridge over the Hutt River) and KiwiRail (realignment of train tracks and the existing designation) on the $700m plus RiverLink project.  Our advice has covered all aspects of the project including governance and funding arrangements, planning (LTP) and contracts, consenting and designating, and land acquisition under both the Public Works Act and the Local Government Act.

Kāpiti Coast District Council - planning for coastal hazards

We advised Kāpiti Coast District Council on planning for coastal hazards. From 2016-2018 we acted for Kāpiti Coast District Council (KCDC) on declaratory proceedings arising from the coastal hazard management provisions of its Proposed District Plan (PDP) and have continued to advise KCDC since then on related issues.

Auckland Unitary Plan

We were the lead external adviser to Auckland Council on the Unitary Plan. This was the single largest planning process in New Zealand, and our role was to manage our allocated workstreams through the notification, submission, mediation, evidence preparation and hearing processes.

Christchurch City Council plan changes

We are advising and representing Christchurch City Council on its Housing and Business Choice Plan Change process, to give effect to the intensification requirements of the National Policy Statement (NPS) for Urban Development.

Tauranga City Council - Te Manawataki o Te Papa - Civic Precinct redevelopment

We assisted Tauranga City Council with its Te Manawataki o Te Papa - Civic Precinct redevelopment project.  This included assisting the Tauranga City Council with its negotiations with the Otamataha Trust.

Horowhenua District Council

We advised Horowhenua District Council on numerous land development and intensification matters, including Environment Court direct referrals for the Shannon and Levin wastewater projects, the Levin town water supply, the Levin Landfill, and the Council's wastewater and trade waste bylaw reviews.

Our team

Daniel Kelleher

Partner, Auckland

Daniel has earned his reputation as a leading practitioner in the property sector by developing strong and lasting relationships with…

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David Allen

Partner, Wellington

David specialises in all aspects of resource management, environmental and natural resources law and local government law…

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David Randal

Partner, Wellington

David specialises in resource management, environmental and Māori law. He has advised clients at the heart of intensive RMA…

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David Thomson

Partner, Auckland

David specialises in corporate and commercial law with considerable experience in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, governance,…

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Jennifer Caldwell

Partner, Auckland
National Chair

Jennifer specialises in resource management, environmental and local government law, with extensive experience as a strategic…

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John Buchan

Partner, Christchurch

John specialises in corporate and commercial law and in particular, commercial property. He acts on a wide range of transactions…

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Kelly Paterson

Partner, Christchurch

Kelly specialises in commercial litigation. She advises on a wide range of commercial litigation issues, including insurance, contract…

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Lisette Hood

Partner, Auckland

Lisette specialises in corporate and commercial law, with particular emphasis on commercial contracting, corporate governance and merge…

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Mark Odlin

Partner, Christchurch

Mark specialises in corporate and commercial law and advises on a range of financial, commercial and corporate law matters, including…

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Paul Beverley

Partner, Wellington

Paul was the National Chair of Buddle Findlay from 2017 to March 2020. Paul specialises in Māori Law, Treaty settlement negotiations…

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Paula Ormandy

Partner, Auckland

Paula specialises in leasing, property development, and high-value portfolio acquisitions and disposals. …

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Susan Rowe

Partner, Christchurch

Susan specialises in litigation, local government, insurance, industrial relations and health and safety. Susan currently advises…

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Thaddeus Ryan

Partner, Wellington

Thad specialises in resource management and Māori law. Thad has a particular specialty in RMA consenting and…

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Tom Bennett

Partner, Auckland

Tom specialises in real estate, construction, procurement and infrastructure projects…

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Tony Wilkinson

Partner, Auckland

Tony has a highly regarded practice acting for public and private sector clients. He is the lead tax advisor for Buddle Findlay’s most…

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Vanessa Evitt

Partner, Auckland

Vanessa specialises in resource management, infrastructure, and environmental law.…

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Willie Palmer

Partner, Christchurch

Willie specialises in commercial litigation including construction, insurance and insolvency law. He has broad experience in…

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