Rising Stars

Firms To Watch: Tax

Led by Helen Johnson, PwC Legal New Zealand’s team advises its roster of clients on the tax aspects of M&A transactions, financings, residential property acquisitions, fund structuring and PPPs, in addition to tax advisory matters.  

Tax in New Zealand

Bell Gully

Bell Gully advises its roster of clients on the full gamut of matters, from the tax aspects of large-scale M&A deals and property acquisitions, as well as financing and securitisation transactions, to IRD audits, private client work and transfer pricing disputes. Mathew McKay ‘provides timely, accurate and practical advice’ in IRD audits and tax-related litigation, while Willy Sussman specialises in indirect and private client taxation. ‘Client-centricGraham Murray leads the Auckland-based practice, focusing on the tax aspects of corporate restructurings, M&A transactions and cross-border investment arrangements. Other key members of the team include Campbell Pentney, who ‘provides excellent GST advice’, in addition to handling income tax, charity law, property taxation and customs and excise duty matters, and Hayden Roberts, who has demonstrable experience in tax disputes.

Practice head(s):

Graham Murray

Other key lawyers:

Mathew McKay; Willy Sussman; Campbell Pentney; Hayden Roberts


‘The in-house collaboration at Bell Gully is a real strength, both within tax and across different areas. Another strength is the quality of the people in the Bell Gully tax team. Mathew McKay, Graham Murray and Campbell Pentney are all very capable and super-easy to deal with.’

‘Graham Murray is an absolute pleasure to work with. He is clever, calm at all times, very client-centric and a good communicator.’

‘Advice provided is always technically accurate and also commercial. Delivery time exceeds expectations and always have excellent communication from the team. All team members are very responsive.’

‘Mathew McKay leads a great team, and by example, always provides timely, accurate and practical advice. Clients prefer to have Mathew in their corner when dealing with difficult issues and negotiations.’

‘Hayden Roberts provides excellent advice and is always available.’

‘Campbell Pentney provides excellent GST advice and is very responsive.’

Key clients

Frucor / Danone

Downer group


Fountainvest Partners

Bentley Systems, Inc.

Toll Group

Ampol Limited

New Zealand Government Vaccine Strategy Taskforce




Air New Zealand

Various securitisation clients

Pearlfisher Capital

Work highlights

  • Advising Ampol Limited on its proposed takeover of the listed fuel distributor, Z Energy via a scheme of arrangement.
  • Advised entities associated with AMP Limited (AMP) and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) on Precinct Properties New Zealand Limited’s internalisation of management rights.


Praised for its ‘first-rate technical knowledge’, MinterEllisonRuddWatts has demonstrable experience in advising on the tax aspects of top-tier corporate transactions, in addition to large-scale infrastructure projects. Additional areas of expertise include transfer pricing, warranty and indemnity insurance, executive remuneration and tax disputes with the New Zealand Inland Revenue. The Auckland-based practice is led by Andrew Ryan, who has notable experience in corporate taxation and obtaining binding rulings from Inland Revenue, whilst acting for domestic banks, blue-chip companies, government entities, insolvency practitioners, not-for-profit organisations and private individuals. Simon Akozu, who was promoted to partner in January 2022, and focuses on M&A, infrastructure projects, financing arrangements and crypto assets, while senior associate Phillip Chrisp advises on the tax aspects of corporate and property transactions.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Ryan

Other key lawyers:

Simon Akozu; Phillip Chrisp


‘The MERW tax team is very experienced. First-rate technical knowledge, advice is always clear and concise, they are very responsive and are able to meet deadlines.’

‘Andrew Ryan understands private equity structures, is very competent technically. Phillip Chrisp is an outstanding understudy to Andrew Ryan and can work to tight deadlines.’

‘We worked with Simon Akozu, who is very personable, friendly and ensured that he was prepared with answers to any questions the IRD may ask.’

‘Quick to respond. Knowledgable and provide clear and easy to understand advice.’

Key clients

Fédération Internationale de Football Association

Wellington Gateway Partnership

EBOS Group Limited

Kainga Ora – Homes and Communities

Fertility Associates Limited

Toitū Tahua: Centre for Sustainable Finance Trust

EverCommerce Inc

ASB Group Investments Limited

The Co-operative Bank Limited


Work highlights

  • Advised Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) on its tax and structuring requirements to successfully deliver the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ competition across Australia and New Zealand.
  • Advising Wellington Gateway Partnership (WGP) on tax considerations, including tax structuring, tax negotiations with both counterparts and with IRD regarding rulings and special determinations.
  • Advised EBOS Group Limited (EBOS) on the tax aspects (transaction document, tax due diligence and providing strategic and tactical tax advice to in-house tax counsel) of their share purchase agreement to acquire LifeHealthcare.

EY Law Limited

EY Law Limited offers ‘technically sound and pragmatic’ advice on all tax types, including customs duties and accident compensation levies, combined with demonstrable expertise in strategy and administration, in addition to cross-border tax issues and disputes involving the New Zealand Inland Revenue. Tori Sullivan, who specialises in cases involving allegations of tax avoidance, transfer pricing, international tax and customs, is praised for her ‘strong relationships with clients, understanding their objectives, whilst maintaining good connections with Inland Revenue’. Sullivan jointly leads the Auckland-based practice alongside Kirsty Keating, who represents clients in tax disputes, as well as advising on the tax aspects of transactions, group structuring and financing matters. Senior associate Jonathan Choie is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Tori Sullivan; Kirsty Keating

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Choie


‘Tori Sullivan is an outstanding professional advisor.’

‘The practice has built good relationships with various sections of the IRD, which provides valuable insight into how they are likely to responds to our applications and submissions.’

‘Tori Sullivan is very knowledgeable about how IR sees issues and their interaction between sections. Her letters and emails are very clear and relevant to the pertinent issues. Jonathan Choie is easy to talk to on the phone and presents the issues clearly.’

‘I think that the EY Law team has one of the leading tax controversy practices in New Zealand. They specialise in tax disputes and litigation, tax certainty and governance. They assist large in-bound and outbound multinational clients, as well as high net wealth individuals, providing advice that is technically sound and pragmatic.’

‘Tori Sullivan leads the team and has successfully represented clients against regulators in contentious cases, involving novel and complex issues. Tori brings insights broader than just tax, into her advice and resolving disputes with regulators. She has strong relationships with clients, understanding their objectives, whilst maintaining good connections with Inland Revenue.’

Key clients

Anderson & O’Leary Limited

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented Anderson & O’Leary Limited in the High Court defending against an appeal by the Accident Compensation Corporation in relation to the appropriate accident compensation levy.

Mayne Wetherell

Housing ‘a tight-knit team of experienced and skilled tax lawyers’, Mayne Wetherell advises on the tax aspects of M&A transactions, real estate investments, as well as financings and securitisations, and has demonstrable experience in tax disputes. In the firm’s Auckland office, practice leaders Brendan Brown and Chris Harker form ‘a formidable team’ who are praised as ‘standout partners’. Brown specialises in corporate and international taxation, while Harker focuses on M&A transactions, restructurings, and financing arrangements, in addition to tax audits and related disputes. ‘Reliable and responsive’ special counsel Tim Stewart operates from the firm’s Wellington office and advises on corporate taxation and customs and excise issues, while Auckland-based senior associate Mitchell Fraser is praised as a ‘strong emerging talent’.

Practice head(s):

Brendan Brown; Chris Harker

Other key lawyers:

Tim Stewart; Mitchell Fraser


‘The MW team has a proven track record of advising on and informing practical and pragmatic policy development, achieving great outcomes for tax law in NZ. The MW team has a very high standard of service, which reflects a thorough and commercial understanding of the client’s business combined with expert knowledge of the law and how it applies in the client context.’

‘The partners are strong leaders, very practical and pragmatic in approach. Really well connected and respected in the NZ tax profession. Always very balanced and well considered, articulate positions strongly, clearly and with respect. Brendan Brown and Chris Harker are stand out partners and Mitchell Fraser is a very strong emerging talent.’

‘Brendan Brown, who leads Mayne Wetherell’s tax practice, is an experienced tax professional. He distinguishes himself from other practitioner’s in NZ due to his deep technical knowledge combined with a calm and considered approach to providing advice. He is well respected across the New Zealand tax community.’

‘A tight knit team of experienced and skilled tax lawyers with a highly responsive and collaborative approach to client engagement.’

‘Brendan Brown and Chris Harker are simply a formidable team.’

‘Brendan Brown is a leading tax lawyer in NZ, clear logical analysis and communication, exceptional accessibility and turnaround under tight deadlines, expertise in range of complex areas, ability to propose workable commercial solutions to client issues.’

‘Tim Stewart has strong technical analysis of issues and identification of solutions, is thoroughly reliable and responsive.’

Key clients

Corporate Taxpayers Group

Avanti Finance Limited

Deutsche Bank AG

Westpac New Zealand Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting as sole legal advisor to the Corporate Taxpayer’s Group in relation to corporate tax issues.
  • Advised Avanti Finance Limited on its largest RMBS transaction.
  • Advised Deutsche Bank, Westpac and Bank of New Zealand on the tax aspects of Bluestone’s NZ$250m RMBS transaction.

Russell McVeagh

Noted for its strong transactional capability, Russell McVeagh advises clients on a range of matters, from the tax aspects of M&A deals, financing and capital raising, in addition to business reorganisations, to transfer pricing, customs and excise issues and employee remuneration packages. Fred Ward leads the Auckland-based team and has experience across range of taxation services, including advice on cross-border financing structures and investigation processes involving Inland Revenue. Greg Neill is another key member of the team, who advises large corporates, financial institutions and private businesses in general corporate tax transactions, and frequently collaborates with the firm’s corporate team in large-scale M&A transactions.

Practice head(s):

Fred Ward

Other key lawyers:

Greg Neill


‘First rate partner-level expertise.’

‘Fred Ward grasps difficult concepts quickly and provides intelligent solutions.’

Key clients

Pacific Equity Partners


Square, Inc.

Kiwi Wealth


Kiwibank Limited

UDC Finance Limited

Fonterra Co-operative Group

Beijing Capital Group

Ares Management LLC

Work highlights

  • Assisted Fonterra Cooperative Group in its review of its capital structure and inter-relationship with the Fonterra Shareholders Fund.
  • Advised UDC Finance Limited on their first term securitisation.
  • Advised KiwiRail on the project relating to the construction and acquisition of two new Cook Strait ferries for NZ$551m from Korean shipyard Hyundai Mipo Dockyard.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson advises on the tax aspects of large-scale domestic and cross-border transactions, as demonstrated by its advice to Adamantem Capital on the NZ$291m sale and leaseback of its property interests in 38 Heritage Lifecare aged care facilities to Centuria Capital Group, in addition to tax audits and related disputes. Other key areas of expertise include not-for-profit taxation, including tax structuring, compliance and policy reform advice, as well as insolvency proceedings and employee equity arrangements. In the firm’s Auckland office, Barney Cumberland leads the tax group and ‘provides timely advice’ on the tax aspects of M&A and financing transactions, while senior associate Nick Bland focuses on public sector taxation and related not-for-profit issues. Senior associate Paul Windeatt is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Barney Cumberland; Stuart Evans

Other key lawyers:

Nick Bland; Paul Windeatt


‘Nicholas Bland is extremely personable and helpful.’

‘Simpson Grierson’s point of difference is the ability to translate technical legal tax points into practical business-focused advice.’

‘Barney Cumberland is very approachable, grasps issues quickly and provides timely advice that is practical and focused on the underlying business drivers.’

Key clients

Adamantem Capital

Arena Investors, LLP

Auckland Council Group

Baker & McKenzie

Macquarie Asia-Pacific Infrastructure

Matariki Forests Trading

nib Holdings Limited

Rayonier New Zealand Limited

Tait International Limited

The a2 Milk Company Limited

Voyage Digital (NZ) Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Adamantem Capital on tax aspects of the sale and leaseback of its property interests in 38Heritage Lifecare aged care facilities to Centuria Capital Group for NZ$291m.
  • Provided transaction tax advice to Macquarie Asia-Pacific Infrastructure on the merger of Orcon (formerly VocusNZ) and 2degrees, through the acquisition by Voyage Digital of the Orcon and 2degrees businesses.
  • Acting for Lodestone Energy in its development of the first of five solar farms planned to be developed in New Zealand.

DLA Piper New Zealand

The ‘pragmatic, knowledgeable and personable’ Auckland-based team at DLA Piper New Zealand is led by David Johnston, who advises a diverse roster of clients on the tax aspects of large-scale M&A transactions, restructurings, inbound and outbound investments, in addition to tax disputes with the Inland Revenue. Noted for its capability in cross-border taxation, the team also counts employee share option plans, fund structuring and warranty and indemnity insurance-related matters in its workload. Associate and chartered accountant Krishant Sen joined the practice from Deloitte in August 2021 and is noted for his transactional capability.

Practice head(s):

David Johnston

Other key lawyers:

Krishant Sen


‘Pragmatic, timely and accurate advice.’

‘Nice people and very responsive.’

‘Pragmatic, knowledgeable and personable. Experienced in anticipating what Inland Revenue’s attitude will be to a particular tax treatment, in the “real world”.’

‘David Johnston and Krishant Sen work well as a team and are both grounded.’

Key clients

Wētā FX (previously Weta Digital)

AMP Capital (now Macquarie Asset Management)

Foodstuffs North Island

NZX and Superlife

Dairy Farm Partnership

Forsyth Barr Investment Management

AIG Insurance

Liberty Global Transaction Solutions

Discovery, Inc (now Warner Bros, Discovery, Inc.)

Ethique and the Ethique Foundation

Work highlights

  • Advised Wētā FX Limited in relation to the sale of the VFX Tech Division.
  • Advised AMP Capital in relation to its sale to Macquarie of its Global Equities and Fixed Income investment management business (NZ Tax Aspects.
  • Providing ongoing tax advisory services to Foodstuffs North Island.