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 liability. Kiri advises insurers on complex indemnity issues, providing coverage advice and acting as monitoring counsel in commercial and professional indemnity claims.  Kiri also assists insurers with consumer claims, particularly in relation to disability and life insurance, where she provides coverage advice and representation in policyholder disputes.  Kiri also advises and defends employers facing personal grievance claims.

Kiri is focused on conducting litigation effectively and collaboratively 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.

In her spare time you will find Kiri exploring Auckland’s dog friendly beaches and parks with Ted, the poodle; learning golf; and, in winter, on New Zealand’s southern ski fields.

Principal areas of practice:

  • Professional Indemnity – solicitors, real estate agents, accountants, architects, engineers, directors and other professional insureds.
  • 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 disputes.
  • Strong advocacy in court and at mediation or negotiations.

Recent trial involvement / outcomes:

  • Barker v Quiambao [2020] NZHC 371 – Successful appeal to the High Court on behalf of the licensees against a READT finding of unsatisfactory conduct. The appeal dealt with licensees’ obligations in respect of current market appraisals and READT jurisdiction. Kiri acted for the licensees.
  • Body Corporate 202692 v Auckland Council [2019] NZHC 1976 followed by Auckland Council v Body Corporate 202692 [2019] NZCA 635 [Retro Apartments] – first challenge to the application of s 37 WHRS Act 2006 to non-weathertightness claims brought in the High Court, to enable defendants to advance limitation defences.  Kiri acted for the third-party engineer.  Although unsuccessful, this judgment paved the way for a successful outcome in other proceedings
  • 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. Kiri acted for the insurer.
  • 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 s 51 Health & Disabilities Commissioners Act 1994.  Kiri acted for the defendant.
  • 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. Kiri acted for the third-party engineer.
  • 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. Kiri acted for the defendant.