Kiri Harkess

Partner | LLB, BA

Kiri is a civil litigator who commenced practice in 2004. She joined McElroys in 2009 and has been a partner since 2015.

She acts for insurers, solicitors, real estate agents, accountants, architects, engineers, directors and other professional insureds facing civil claims, with particular expertise in construction disputes and professional indemnity and liability. Kiri advises health and life insurers on indemnity and policyholder disputes. Kiri also advises and defends employers facing personal grievance claims.

Kiri is focused on conducting litigation effectively and efficiently in order to achieve the best possible outcome for her clients. She brings a practical approach and sound technical legal knowledge and advocacy skills to her practice. She represents her clients in the District Court, High Court, Court of Appeal, Employment Relations Authority, Employment Court, before professional Tribunals, and in adjudication proceedings under the Construction Contracts Act 2002.

An instructing solicitor for the SPCA’s pro bono legal panel, Kiri enjoys walking her dog on Auckland’s dog friendly beaches and parks year round. In summer you’ll find Kiri paddle boarding or road tripping to a NZ beach somewhere with her teenage family. A keen and hardy skier, she recently completed the Tongariro Crossing mid-winter with crampons, ice picks and even a few broken ribs.

Principal areas of practice:

  • Professional Indemnity – solicitors, real estate agents, accountants, architects, engineers, directors and other professional insurers.
  • Professional Discipline – solicitors and real estate agents.
  • General liability – fire (including rural & forest) and construction.
  • Indemnity advice.
  • Employment disputes.


  • Positive and effective relationships with clients, parties and opposing counsel.
  • Thoughtful and considered advice on liability, strategy and resolution of disputes.
  • Commercial and practical approach to litigation and disputes.
  • Strong advocacy in court and at mediation or negotiations.

Recent trial involvement / outcomes:

  • Zurich Australian Insurance v Withers [2017] 2 NZLR 746 – Judgment for an insurer in the Court of Appeal that a dishonesty exclusion in a professional indemnity policy applied, overturning the High Court’s decision that the insured’s conduct was not dishonest
  • P v F [2015] 3 NZLR 758 (CA) – Judgment in the Court of Appeal that a father who suffered mental injury as a consequence of medical misadventure to his spouse and child in the course of childbirth and pregnancy did not have standing to bring proceedings under s51 Health & Disabilities Commissioners Act 1994
  • Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust v Invercargill City Council [2014] NZHC 1439 (HC) -Striking out claims against engineers on limitation grounds under the Building Act 2004.
  • Acting for solicitors in various claims arising out of the Blue Chip collapse, including appearing in the Court of Appeal on the issue of contribution between two negligent solicitors: Macalister Mazengarb v Annan Law [2015] 2 NZLR 525
  • Apark Ltd v Nero Noctis Pty Ltd [2013] NZHC 468 (HC) – Successful protest to jurisdiction of the New Zealand Courts to hear civil proceedings against an Australian finance broker.