Dentons Kensington Swan > Auckland, New Zealand > Firm Profile

Dentons Kensington Swan
New Zealand

New Zealand > Real estate and construction

New Zealand > Transport (rail, road, air and sea) Tier 1

Dentons Kensington Swan’s full-service transport department has a strong record in handling major PPP projects, and is a regular advisor to major New Zealand transport agencies. Auckland office managing partner and real estate specialist Matthew Ockleston worked with other key names Paul Buetow, Christina Sheard, and Nicky McIndoe advising NZ Transport Agency on the Northern Corridor Improvements Project. McIndoe leads the national environment and planning team, and her work focuses on the Resource Management Act, heritage, conservation, public works, and local government legislation relevant to infrastructure.

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency

Ministry of Social Development

Grand Complex Properties Limited

Universal Homes Limited

Pro-Invest Group

Tāmaki Regeneration Limited

PMG Capital

Fletcher Building Limited

Fisher & Paykel Appliances Limited

Oji Fibre Solutions

Downer New Zealand

CPB Contractors/ CIMIC

Leighs Construction

Naylor Love

Ghella Limited


Hawkins 2017


Work highlights

  • Advised Waka Kotahi on the development of the Business Case through to the current construction process for the NCI Project and the new Rosedale Bus Station.
  • Advising Waka Kotahi on a number of complex matters relating to the SH1 Whangārei to Port Marsden Highway.
  • Advising Waka Kotahi on all matters relating to environmental and planning approvals and land acquisition, as part of the SH58 project.

New Zealand > Corporate and M&A Tier 2

Highly experienced, efficient and solution-orientedDentons Kensington Swan leverages its international network to win instructions on large scale transactions, involving local and offshore components. In one such example, Chris Parke led senior associate Charles Thompson, in acting for the shareholders of Glidepath on the sale of all of their shares to French robotics and automated solutions leader B2A Technology SAS. Head of Asia business Heida Donegan and Korean speaker Wook Jin Lee‘s cross-border transactional expertise, has contributed to the growth of its Asian-based client portfolio. Parke heads the practice from Auckland, which also houses David Lewis who lends 30 years’ experience in high-end M&A transactions, company law and restructuring. He has developed a speciality in regulatory and commercial issues relating to medicines, medical devices and primary healthcare. Nick Scott is another key layer. Wellington-based David Shillson regularly advises on asset and share transactions. He is also instructed by government departments and local authorities in relation to significant commercial projects relating to infrastructure and services provided to communities.

Practice head(s):


‘They are highly experienced, efficient and solution-oriented. They always give us pragmatic and realistic advice. They know our business needs and objectives well. They are not afraid of challenges, hence, they provide us with exceptional results. They are a team with good sense of humour. They are easy to work with. ‘

‘We love working with Heida Donegan and her team. Heida is always available to answer any questions we have. We feel at ease knowing that she takes a holistic approach to every deal. We can always rely on her to identify loopholes/issues and find solutions for us.’

Key clients

Johnson & Johnson


CentrePort Wellington


Oji Fibre Solutions

Guangxi Fenglin Wood Industry Group

Pernod Ricard Winemakers Limited

Bridgestone New Zealand Limited

George Weston Foods

Work highlights

  • Advised international pulp and paper company OjiFS on a number of acquisitions of forestry assets and on obtaining a standing forestry consent under the Overseas Investment Act (one of only four such standing consents that have been granted).
  • Acted for the shareholders of Glidepath on the sale of all of their shares to French robotics and automated solutions leader B2A Technology SAS. Glidepath designs, manufactures, maintains and integrates automated technology solutions baggage handling and security systems for airports, and logistics centres and operates in 8 countries across five continents.  
  • Acted for Whanganui District Council on the establishment of the Whanganui Port Limited Partnership (LP) as a new council controlled organisation (CCO) to acquire the Whanganui Port assets and receive investment funding from the New Zealand Government’ Provincial Growth Fund.

New Zealand > Dispute resolution Tier 2

Dentons Kensington Swan‘s Wellington litigation team is headed by Hayden Wilson , and is nationally recognised for its public and administrative law litigation capabilities, acting for several core Government agencies. Media disputes, defamation cases and ADR are also key areas of instruction. Public law expert Linda Clark  is a key figure and David Campbell leads the Auckland team, which includes James McMillan , a specialist in contentious insolvency work. Senior associate Patrick Glennie, who is qualified in Scots law advises on commercial and trusts matters. The team focuses on infrastructure, corporate, and commercial disputes.

Practice head(s):

Key clients


Medical Council of New Zealand

Engineering New Zealand



Work highlights

  • Advised the administrators, and then liquidators, of three STA Travel entities in relation to all matters arising from the collapse of the global business. This instruction is ongoing and has so far involved two court applications, with another in prospect in order to determine complex issue as to the status of funds received.
  • Acted for a Professional Conduct Committee of the Medical Council prosecuting Dr E in the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal for professional misconduct. Dr E was charged in relation to his prescribing of abortion medication to two pregnant patients in breach of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977 and in breach of professional standards for general practitioners.
  • Acted for Engineering New Zealand in proceedings for judicial review of a decision to dismiss complaints made by the Government’s Chief Engineer (and others) against Dr Alan Reay. Dr Reay is the director of the engineering firm that designed the CCTV building that collapsed during the Canterbury sequence of earthquakes.

New Zealand > Intellectual property Tier 2

New Zealand > Investment funds Tier 2

Dentons Kensington Swan‘s team offers ‘pragmatic and specialist advice’ in managed funds, superannuation and the KiwiSaver scheme. It also advises offshore funds in relation to New Zealand investments. The team, co-led by ‘standoutCatriona Grover and David Ireland, who has a wealth of expertise across all facets of investment law, and is also a trusted advisor to public bodies, national and regional wealth managers, insurance providers and mortgage originators. Ireland is involved in reforms in financial markets regulation, including the recent Financial Markets Services Legislation Amendment Act reforms. Senior associate Tom McLaughlin assists the on all aspects of financial products and services.

Practice head(s):

Other key lawyers:


‘Catriona Grover is a stand out. She knows her area thoroughly and provides technically correct plus pragmatic advice.’

‘Catriona Grover – outstanding, could not say enough about the value she provides to us. Firstly she is always technically on point knows her stuff inside out in the funds/investment space. She is also across the ongoing Fintech changes and all this while being approachable and friendly to people at all levels in our business. ‘

‘Consistently great experience as a customer. Stick to budget and timeframes all the while delivering real value add in terms of the advice they give. The team is always well trained with lots of talent upcoming rather than just one or two people who are good. Working with an outstanding female partner (Catriona) who is top of her field is also really nice.’

‘Catriona Grover is the standout legal partner that I work with. She is both an excellent technical lawyer but also an excellent commercial mind.’

‘A very supportive working relationship with David Ireland and Tom McLaughlin. Helping to get us over the line on large projects in a pragmatic (business minded) way. As above, I feel they have the best interests of our business at the centre of what they do for us.’

Key clients

Kiwi Wealth Limited

ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited

AMP Wealth Management New Zealand Limited

NZX Wealth Technologies

UniSaver New Zealand

Funds Administration New Zealand Limited (FANZ)

Equity Trustees Limited

Civic Financial Services Limited (‘Civic’)/Local Government

Superannuation Trustee Limited (‘LGST’)

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (‘ Ngāi Tahu ’)/ Whai Rawa Fund

Limited (‘WRFL’)

Work highlights

  • Advised Mercer New Zealand on the FMA-consented bulk transfer of members of the Bank of New Zealand Officers’ Provident Association to a new bespoke employer plan within the Mercer Super Trust, involving funds under management of approximately $270 million.
  • Advised Kernel Wealth on the establishment and launch of eight new index-tracking funds, including Kernel’s first diversified global funds, bespoke thematic funds with a focus on innovation and technology, and funds focused on environmental, social, and governance factors.
  • Advised Consilium NZ on the establishment of its KiwiWRAP KiwiSaver Scheme, including assisting Consilium NZ obtain its manager licence and advising on all design and regulatory issues, with the Scheme launching at the end of January 2021.

New Zealand > Labour and employment Tier 2

New Zealand > Projects and resources management (including environment) Tier 2

New Zealand > Restructuring and insolvency Tier 2

New Zealand > TMT Tier 2

New Zealand > Banking and finance Tier 3

Dentons Kensington Swan combines ‘sound technical and legal knowledge’ with a ‘good understanding and knowledge of market practise and trends.’ The firm stands out for its specialist retirement village development financing and its knowledge of new product structuring and development, including transactional banking, trade finance, and receivables financing products. Continuing to benefit from the addition of Liz Lim in 2020, the firm is building on its global reputation and strengthening its visibility across the Asia-Pacific region with new instructions from leading Australian, Chinese and international banks. Lim’s experience in property finance, acquisition finance and asset based financing has attracted high-end mandates from key players in the New Zealand banking sector. Senior associate Pauline Ho is likewise recommended for corporate and structured lending. Both figures are based in Auckland.

Practice head(s):

Other key lawyers:


‘Dentons Kensington Swan is a “big firm” with a “small firm” ethos – i.e., a very personal service with a focus on delivering prompt/excellent legal services to its customers.’

‘Small but good team. Good people and work well with other practice areas, including property. Very responsive and attentive. Always very competitive with pricing/estimates and very clear in communications (when providing advice etc).’

‘Great availability. Very sound technical and legal knowledge, but provides good commercial advice. Good understanding and knowledge of market practise/trends.’

‘Liz Lim is one of those rare “trusted advisors” in the profession. Once instructed, she asks thoughtful questions to explore the scope of work, and thereafter proactively identifies potential issues (and offers potential remedies thereto), and otherwise delivers a seamless legal service/solution. For that reason, Liz Lim is very well known and respected in Auckland/NZ, and has amassed a following over the years.’

Key clients

ANZ Bank

ASB Bank

Bank of New Zealand


Bank of China

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

Guardian Trust

Public Trust


Kensington Swan is one of New Zealand’s leading national commercial law firms working with clients to achieve complete legal solutions. In addition to its New Zealand client base of private and public clients, the firm actively advises multinational organisations on their investments and business activities in New Zealand.

The firm is especially regarded for its involvement in the infrastructure, natural resources, education, FMCG, food, manufacturing, healthcare, energy and government/public sectors. It assists clients with doing business in New Zealand, including employment, real estate, intellectual property protection, procurement, resource consenting and construction, public private partnerships, commercial contracts, competition law, joint ventures, M&A, Overseas Investment Act, privacy, financial markets, and finance. The firm is valued for its help on reputational risk and crisis management particularly in a dispute context, in the course of inquiries and in relation to overseas investment.

Kensington Swan is scheduled in early 2020, to combine with Dentons (, the world’s largest law firm, meaning they can support your organisation wherever you operate.

Construction & Major Projects Brendan 4 915 0780
Construction & Major Projects Paul 9 375 1114
Corporate/Commercial David 9 914 7263
Corporate/Commercial David 4 498 0890
Dispute Resolution David 9 375 1115
Government and Regulatory Hayden 4 915 0782
Employment Charlotte 9 914 7259
Employment Greg 4 916 0963
Environment and Planning Nicky 4 915 0818
Environment and Planning Christina 9 375 1185
Asia Business Heida 9 918 6213
Financial Markets David 4 498 0840
Financial Markets Catriona 4 498 0816
Intellectual Property Jenni 9 914 7251
Intellectual Property Charlotte 4 915 5955
Real Estate Matthew 9 915 3350
Real Estate John 4 498 0872
Restructuring and Insolvency James 9 375 1154
Technology and Innovation Hayley 9 915 3366
Partners : 33
Number of lawyers : 118
Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin)
Institute of Financial Professionals New Zealand (INFINZ)