Meet the Team

Local advice you can trust

At Insight Legal we aim to be your most trusted advisers in business and life.

Our people are approachable, down to earth and experts in their field.

We want you to feel as comfortable talking through your legal worries, as you do chatting to us on the sidelines, in the supermarket queue, or at the boat ramp. If there’s a legal problem on your mind, pick up the phone and call us today. We’d love to help you get it sorted.

Our legal team

Our people are experts in their fields – smart, knowledgeable, experienced and pragmatic. We’re here to listen and support you in finding your best path forward, so you can get on with enjoying life. 


DDI Phone: 09 6016047

Learn more about Ben

For Ben Lupton, great relationships lie at the heart of legal practice. ‘I really enjoy getting to know my clients and their families,’ says Ben. ‘It’s the best way to provide considered advice, tailored to their needs and at an affordable price.’ 

With a special interest in conveyancing, trust law and estate planning, Ben says finding the best path forward comes down to personal circumstances.  ‘Clients often ask whether they should keep their family trusts, but it really does depend,’ he says. ‘It’s often a matter of helping clients see the long-term picture, rather than addressing a short-term need.’

Ben says one easy way clients can protect themselves is by putting in place enduring powers of attorney before it is too late. ‘Enduring powers of attorney are a bit like insurance: great to have, but consider yourself lucky if you never need to rely on them.’

Ben is experienced in both litigation and alternative dispute resolution. He has expertise in resource management law and has helped many clients successfully and cost-effectively resolve issues with councils and local bodies. 

Prior to joining Insight Legal in 2017, Ben worked for leading law firms around the world, practicing in Auckland, Wellington, London and Hong Kong. He also lived in Beijing for three years, where he acted as a consultant to Kiwi companies looking to enter the Chinese market.

As a child, Ben enjoyed holidays in the Mahurangi area and with the great beaches, excellent fishing and fantastic community, had always wanted to call it home.  He now volunteers at Warkworth Home Builders’ legal clinic and is a member of the Point Wells Community & Ratepayers Association committee.

‘Becoming a director of Insight Legal has been a very satisfying aspect of my career,’ he says. ‘I enjoy the business side of managing a practice and after years advising big corporates, it feels good to be able to offer quality legal advice to people in my community.’ 

Ben helps clients with a range of business and personal matters including:

  • Conveyancing
  • Property law
  • Dispute resolution 
  • Wills and estates
  • Trusts
  • Business law


BA, LLB, Dip Journ
Ngatea & Takanini ​
DDI Phone: 09 295 0406

Learn more about Graham

After more than three decades in legal practice, helping clients protect their families and their assets is second nature to Graham O’Brien.

His approach is typically straightforward and pragmatic: ‘If you have property, make a will. If you have property, a business or are over 60, create enduring powers of attorney. And if you are in a new relationship, consider having a relationship property agreement to protect both parties.’

As a general legal practitioner, Graham helps clients with a wide variety of legal matters, from relationship property and family law disputes, to estates, trusts, property and business. He says it’s a privilege to be able to support clients with so many facets of their everyday lives. 

Graham originally practiced in South Auckland and opened a part-time law office in his home town of Ngatea in the early 90s. In 2004, he joined a small group of past pupils of Ngatea District High School and Hauraki Plains College to establish the Haurakian Charitable Trust, with a vision of enhancing the educational, social and wellbeing outcomes for young people in the district. Graham acted as foundation trustee, a rewarding way to give back to the community in which he was raised. 

As a former representative athlete and rugby player, athletics coach and New Zealand selector, Graham has a lifelong passion for sport and is a long term sponsor of several local sporting clubs.

Contact Graham for advice regarding:

  • Buying or selling a property
  • Family law
  • Relationship Property
  • Wills and estates
  • Business
  • Dispute resolution


LLB, MCom. Law (Hons), PhD
DDI Phone: 09 6016042

Learn more about John

Dr John Gray founded Insight Legal in 2004 and has been in legal practice for more than 50 years. He works across all areas of the practice and has a special interest in trusts and relationship property. Clients appreciate his ability to explain legal concepts clearly, and get the work done in a timely manner  

John has a PhD in law, and is a trustee of the Rodney Health Charitable Trust which provides funds to meet the health needs of those who require treatment not funded by the public system.  

John now lives in the South Island and acts as a consultant to clients across our offices. He can provide advice regarding:

  • Trusts
  • Relationship Property
  • Estates, including the Family Protection Act and testamentary promises claims.
  • Wills
  • General family law


​DDI Phone: 09 6016043

Learn more about Hugh

Legal disputes can be complex, but Hugh Gladwell says that with the right advice, the problem can often be resolved without delay and at a reasonable cost. 

‘Over the years, I’ve helped many people resolve complicated disputes,’ says Hugh. ‘It’s satisfying to get the problem sorted quickly and cost effectively, so everyone can move on.’ 

Hugh has been in legal practice in Warkworth for over 45 years, a time of enormous growth for the town and the wider Mahurangi region.  He now acts as a legal consultant, working primarily in the areas of trust law, relationship property, estate administration and disputes. 

With such a rich connection to the Mahurangi, preserving the town’s heritage is a particular interest for Hugh. He is a trustee of the Jane Gifford Maritime Heritage Trust, and the

Mahurangi River Restoration Trust, as well as acting as honorary solicitor to various local clubs and societies.

Hugh is available to consult on legal matters including:

  • Buying or selling a property
  • Property disputes
  • Relationship Property agreements and disputes
  • Trusts
  • Estates administration and claims
  • Civil court proceedings


Warkworth & Mangawhai
DDI Phone: 09 601 6049

Learn more about Julia

Julia is a Principal at Insight Legal, based in both our Mangawhai and Warkworth offices. With over a decade of legal practice in Rodney and Northland, her specialties lie in estate planning and trusts, complex property matters, and small to medium-scale commercial matters.

Julia’s approach to law is founded on clarity and understanding. She believes in breaking down legal jargon into plain English and making complex concepts understandable for her clients. Julia takes pride in the fact her clients view her as not just a lawyer but also a trusted advisor. 


Networking and community engagement are key aspects of her professional life. She believes in the power of connections and the value of building and maintaining strong, supportive networks with both her clients and other professionals in the community.


Whether you’re navigating the intricacies of trusts and estate planning, delving into commercial ventures, or stepping into the property market, Julia is here to guide you through with expertise, empathy, and efficiency.


When she’s not practicing law, Julia is fully immersed in raising her young family.


DDI Phone: 09 2950403

Learn more about Matthew

For Matthew Gallagher, helping clients solve complex problems is one of the most satisfying aspects of legal practice. ‘Rarely is someone successful without the support of others.  I like being part of a client’s team of professional advisors, helping them achieve their goals.’

Whether he is helping clients buy a house, buy a business, or plan for retirement, Matthew prides himself on ensuring his advice is not only sound but cost-effective and strategic. 

Thinking strategically is especially important when it comes to the complex question of whether a client should have a family trust. ‘I often tell clients that if they create a trust they need to actively manage it,’ says Matthew. ‘That means having regular meetings, reviewing the level of insurance cover and considering the trust’s investment strategy.  Trusts are no longer a matter of ‘set and forget’.’

While digital technology allows many documents to be signed remotely, Matthew says there is still real value for clients in discussing a transaction in person. ‘It’s the best way to make sure your lawyer understands the full picture.’ 

After almost 20 years in legal practice, Matthew knows the importance of taking time for himself. On weekends and after work, he loves getting out in nature on his mountain bike.

Contact Matthew for advice regarding:

  • Buying or selling a property
  • Wills and estates
  • Trusts
  • Business


DDI Phone: 09 6016048

Learn more about Melissa

Melissa Crawford says that the end of a relationship is almost always extremely stressful for both parties. ‘It’s not unusual for a client to be in tears at the first appointment,’ she says. It’s the best feeling to see them walk out the door a few months later, with all their property issues sorted and a big smile on their face, ready to move on with life.’

Melissa, who is known for her caring and approachable manner, says her first priority is to help the client feel at ease. ‘I’m always willing to listen, I explain things clearly and help my clients stay calm and focused on what needs to be done.’

Melissa has a special interest in resolving disputes over estates and relationship property and says it takes thoughtful and creative problem solving to help the parties find a solution that is fair to both sides. ‘In relationship property disputes, both parties have to be prepared to make concessions,’ she says. ‘There will never be a “winner takes all” solution; it’s about finding a fair outcome that works for everyone.’

Fairness is a core value for Melissa, who led the board of food rescue charity, Fair Food, through the COVID pandemic. ‘In 2021-22, we rescued 2 million kilograms of food that was destined for the landfill and redistributed it to people in need. That’s equivalent to providing 5.3 million meals exactly when our communities needed it most,’ she says with pride. ‘It was a wild ride – and sometimes it still is – but I love every minute of it.’

She’s also a trustee of Comet, an education focused not-for-profit organisation seeking to create more equitable learning pathways for all; and the Talking Matters charitable trust. 

Prior to joining Insight Legal, Melissa served as a senior diplomat in China and Hong Kong, negotiating trade deals, providing international legal advice and representing New Zealand’s interests on the global stage.  

Melissa lives in Point Wells with her husband Ben, their two daughters, and their beloved golden Labrador, Bess.

Melissa can help with:

  • Family law
  • Relationship Property 
  • Dispute resolution
  • Wills
  • Estates and estate disputes
  • Trusts
  • Retirement villages


Conveyancing Practitioner
& Registered Legal Executive
DDI Phone: 09 6016040

Learn more about Flora

With decades of experience in conveyancing, Flora Burns knows what it takes to make a property settlement run smoothly. Her best tip for clients? ‘Just follow our instructions,’ she says with a smile. 

Clients often look for certainty in the settlement process, but Flora says there are some factors that are simply unknown. ‘I can’t predict what time your property will settle, but I can tell you that 95% of settlements take place between 11.30am and 2pm,’ she says.

Flora joined Insight Legal in 2005, after several years in property law at leading Auckland law firms Burton and Partners, and Russell McVeagh. Clients often say they appreciate her down-to-earth approach and her natural ability to explain the law in ‘layman’s terms’. 

Flora says one of her most rewarding and memorable cases involved supporting a young widow whose partner had taken his own life and had not left a will. With Flora’s help, the widow was able to obtain letters of administration, so that she could finally deal with her partner’s finances and move forward with her life. 

Flora is such a valued member of the Insight Legal team, that when she tried to move to Christchurch, we couldn’t let her go. She now works remotely from the South Island, where she and her partner enjoy spending time with children and grandchildren. 


Registered Legal Executive
DDI Phone: 09 2950402

Learn more about Rachel

It’s often said that buying or selling a home is one of life’s most stressful events, but Rachel Evanson says it doesn’t have to be that way. 

‘I prepare all the documentation well in advance to ensure a smooth settlement and I go the extra mile to make sure the deal goes ahead.’ She laughs. ‘Compared to the dentist, the process is painless!’

Rachel especially enjoys supporting first home buyers, who understandably have a lot of questions. ‘I always run through the process so they’ll know what to expect and when.’ 

While there’s nothing like hearing the delight in her clients’ voices when they take possession of the front door key, Rachel’s support doesn’t stop there. She helps her clients protect their treasured new home and their families, by reviewing existing wills (or drafting first wills) and considering enduring power of attorney. ‘These documents are so important, but easily overlooked in the excitement of buying a new home,’ she says.

Rachel knows the legal business inside and out, having worked as a property assistant, trust account settlements administrator, office assistant and receptionist, while studying part time for her NZLS Legal Executive Diploma. She qualified as a legal executive in 2012 and joined Insight Legal three years later.

Alongside her legal practice, Rachel enjoys assisting local real estate agents with ‘first home buyer’ seminars, sharing both her legal knowledge and practical tips for a smooth property transaction.


Registered Legal Executive

DDI Phone: 09 6016045

Learn more about Cynthia

For Cynthia Fletcher, there’s nothing more satisfying than telephoning a client on settlement day to say “The property is yours. Congratulations on your new chapter’. 

Whether she’s supporting young clients buying their first home, or mature clients moving into a retirement village, the excitement is infectious. That’s why Cynthia finds her work in conveyancing and estate administration so enjoyable. 

‘Sometimes clients arrive quite stressed, but once I’ve walked them through the steps and they have a better grip on the procedures of conveyancing or estate administration, they start to relax,’ says Cynthia. ‘I let them know that we are here for them and they can call with any questions, no matter how big or small.’

Cynthia has been part of the Insight Legal team since 2001, when she and her family moved north to Port Albert to escape the ‘rat race’ and buy a ‘little piece of land’. She began in reception, qualified as a legal executive in 2007 and has been a key part of the estates and conveyancing team ever since. 

Supporting clients over the long term is another rewarding aspect of her role. ‘After more than 20 years with Insight Legal, there are a lot of familiar faces. I know their families and their circumstances and that makes such a difference when they walk through the door.’ 

A longtime supporter of grassroots rugby, Cynthia is secretary of the Wellsford Rugby Club and her husband Mike is club captain. While they still love the country life, Cynthia often revisits the ‘rat race’ to spend time with her four grandsons. 


Legal Executive

DDI Phone: 09 2950404

Learn more about Hayley

When a loved one dies, the legal process can feel overwhelming. Hayley Chalmers says it’s a privilege to support families through one of the toughest moments of their lives.

‘Losing a loved one is never easy,’ says Hayley. ‘I try to support families with empathy and kindness, and take the stress out of the legal process wherever possible.’

Hayley has significant experience in property transactions and a special interest in estate administration, a role that requires both sensitivity and attention to detail. ‘Making sure that a deceased client’s wishes are fulfilled is really rewarding work,’ says Hayley. ‘It feels good to be able to give the family clarity and certainty, so they can begin to move forward.’

Hayley has been a legal executive for more than 20 years and spent 12 years working in property law for a large corporate law firm before joining Insight Legal in 2014.

A long time resident of Takanini, Hayley grew up in Wattle Downs, attended local schools and is raising her two children in the same community. ‘Being a mum is my most important achievement,’ says Hayley. ‘I love to help out at the kids’ school whenever I can.’


Legal Executive
Warkworth & Mangawhai
​DDI Phone: 09 6016041

Learn more about Lisa

No matter how complex the property transaction, Lisa Baird loves helping her clients get to grips with the legal side.

‘I have a passion for property law,’ says Lisa. ‘It’s really satisfying to break down challenging legal topics and make it easy for clients to understand what is happening and why.’ 

Lisa supports a broad range of clients from first home buyers, through to property developers and charitable trusts. Lisa can help with leases, surrender of leases and title issues, as well as sale and purchase agreements and conveyancing for urban, rural or multi-title properties.

Lisa’s passion for property recently extended to finding her own dream home, right here in the community she serves. ‘I fell in love with Mangawhai after discovering the incredible scenery, beaches and lifestyle it has to offer, so I purchased my own home in the Mangawhai Heads area.’ 


Lawyer (Kiribati) + Paralegal
DDI Phone: 09 6016044

Learn more about Ateti

Ateti Tekawa is a Kiribati-qualified lawyer, currently acting as a paralegal in our Warkworth office. ‘I love being part of a vibrant team providing practical and meaningful legal support to our clients,’ she says.

An experienced civil and criminal litigator, Ateti Tekawa practiced law for seven years as a Senior State Attorney at the Office of the Attorney General in Kiribati. Her extensive legal studies have taken her to Fiji and Australia, where she completed a master’s degree in international law from the Australian National University. 

Ateti is now working through the requirements to qualify as a solicitor in New Zealand, while acting as a paralegal. She assists clients with wills, powers of attorney and other legal documents, and supports the legal team with research and drafting. She has a particular interest in family and property law. 

Ateti is an active member of Mahurangi’s Kiribati community and the Warkworth Catholic Church. 

Our administrative support team 

Our support team is here to ensure you have the best possible service from Insight Legal. If you have a question about your file, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. 

When you call or visit our offices, you’ll be greeted by one of our brilliant team members.  They’ll help you schedule appointments, track down documents and connect you with the right people to get your issue sorted quickly. Kind and empathetic, they’ve been known to help clients move from tears to giggles, or to step in at just the right moment with a restorative cuppa. Nothing is too much trouble, so please feel free to ask for anything you need.

Our Trust Accountant is Ruth Haining. She makes sure our systems and processes are organised and efficient, so we can deliver great value for money. If you have a question about your account, get in touch with Ruth. 

Jenny Bonner is PA to director Graham O’Brien and helps with research, gathering information and preparing documentation ahead of appointments and filing deadlines. She’ll keep you up to date with progress and answer any queries. 




Takanini & Ngatea


17A Neville Street
PO Box 333
Warkworth 0941
DX AA25509
Phone: +64 9 425 7884
Facsimile: +64 9 425 7032


1/C Molesworth Drive
PO Box 333
Warkworth 0941
DX AA25509
Phone: +64 9 425 7884
Facsimile: +64 9 425 7032


180/D Great South Road
PO Box 72153
Papakura 2244
DX EP76513
Phone: +64 9 295 0113
Facsimile: + 64 9 298 8925


Hauraki District Council Building
84 Orchard West Road
All correspondence to Takanini address
(Monday and Friday, other days by arrangement)
Phone: +64 7 867 7014
Facsimile: +64 7 867 7018