Jonathan is widely regarded as New Zealand’s leading expert on the structures, powers, processes, and funding of local authorities, advocating for the sector’s interests through periods of dramatic reform and on specific major projects for over 35 years.

Jonathan primarily acts for local authorities and their organisations, but also for those dealing with, or regulating for, local government. He is sought out by private sector and governmental bodies looking to work with local authorities.

From a deep understanding of statutory and political contexts, Jonathan advises on local authority major projects, litigation, and reforms; lobbying, drafting, and promoting legislation, and judicial review proceedings.

He regularly advises, and, as required mediates, in governance and restructuring matters, and provides new council inductions and governance training.

Jonathan frequently leads legal teams dealing with complex commercial initiatives within a local government context. 

Jonathan brings a strategic and problem-solving focus to issues based on long experience, knowledge and good humour. 

Jonathan was a legal adviser and peer reviewer for SGS Reports to the Ministry for the Environment on “Mechanisms for managing urban change”, and a legal adviser on Local Government Know How projects on rating and local authority decision making. 

He was the principal legal adviser to Local Government New Zealand and Taituarā (the Society of Local Government Managers).

Jonathan was the principal author of Brookers Guide to the Local Government Act 2002 and Thomsons Local Government Law in New Zealand.  He also authored several papers on the National Transition Committee for Local Government Reform - A New Century for Local Government. 

Chambers Asia-Pacific 2024
Public Law

Leading Lawyer (Senior Statespeople)

Work Highlights

New Plymouth District Council

Proposal to facilitate the return of endowment land at Waitara to tangata whenua, including successful defence of legal action brought by leaseholders, and developing and promoting legislative solution.

Queenstown-Lakes District Council

Corporate governance, statutory process and decision-making advice associated with QACL decision to sell 24.9% shareholding to AIAL, and subsequent judicial review.

Kaipara District Council

Remedial actions arising from the Mangawhai Wastewater project, including Local Act, judicial review, long-term planning and rating advice, and pursuing contributory settlements.

Christchurch City Council

Restructure of substantial social housing portfolio.

Wellington City Council (and others)

Shared services ICT Infrastructure project.

New Plymouth District Council

Establishment of New Plymouth Airport CCO.

New Plymouth District Council

Restructure of Council’s investment arrangements from management CCO to fund guardian structure.

Local Government Commission

Hawke’s Bay and Northland reorganisation proposals.

Tauranga City Council

Process and probity adviser to the “Heart of the City” development.

Tasman District Council

Process adviser on $102 million Waimea Dam project.

2018/28 long term plans

Advised 44 local authorities on process and compliance with emphasis on consultation documents; policies and strategies; rating and funding compliance.

Areas of Expertise

Insights & News