Who we are

Our firm was established in Gisborne in 1978. Collectively we have over 
100 years’ experience in a number of legal areas, and are known for our commitment to excellence. 

We 'walk the talk' and consistently get the best possible results for our clients. 


Doug Rishworth
Doug Rishworth LLB

Doug co-founded Rishworth Wall and Mathieson in 1978. He has long experience in the criminal law. He was on the Crown Solicitors Panel as a Senior Crown Prosecutor for many years and has acted as Senior Defence Counsel for over 35 years.

His jury trial experience covers all serious criminal charges in both the High Court and District Court. He also represents people charged with offending under the Transport and Fisheries Acts, and assists individuals and families with relationship property matters.

Doug is Honorary Solicitor for a number of clubs and community organisations and Chairman of the Poverty Bay Rugby Union’s Judicial Appeal Committee. He has given free legal advice at the Citizens Advice Bureau for over 30 years.

  • Criminal law
  • Relationship property
  • Transport matters
John Mathieson
John Mathieson LLB

John began his legal career in Dunedin in the late 1970s and became a partner of Rishworth, Wall and Mathieson in 1983. 

His primary focus is litigation in the areas of criminal law, family law and youth justice. John specialises as Lawyer for Child in the Family Court, also as a youth advocate and a mental health advocate. 

He also assists families with guardianship matters and relationship property, and local businesses with commercial transactions.

  • Criminal law
  • Family law
  • Commercial transactions
  • Transport law
  • Relationship property
Phil Dreifuss
Phil Dreifuss LLB

Phil joined Rishworth, Wall and Mathieson in 1986 and became a Partner in 1991. 

Phil specialises in working with families. He is a lawyer for children and accredited mediator. He also assists clients with trusts and estates, and rural and residential conveyancing.

He has held the role of District Inspector of Mental Health for the Tairawhiti region since 1998.
 Phil is a member of the New Zealand Law Society Panel of Mediators, and a New Zealand representative on the international board of not-for-profit community development organisation Surfaid, of which he is a co-founder.

  • Family law
  • Relationship property
  • Trusts and estates
  • Conveyancing
  • Mediation
Tiana Epati

Tiana Epati

Admitted to the bar in 2000, Tiana has experience in criminal, regulatory and public law litigation. She is a criminal appeals specialist with an exceptional record at the appellate level.

Tiana previously worked at the Crown Law Office as a Crown prosecutor and is a highly experienced advocate. She conducts senior level criminal jury trials in the District and High Courts, and regularly appears in the Court of Appeal. 

Tiana was appointed a specialist Youth Advocate in criminal proceedings in 2015; is the 
Vice-President for Central North Island on the New Zealand Law Society Executive Board; and is a member of the Women’s Advisory Panel for the New Zealand Law Society.

  • Criminal law
  • Appellate law
  • Regulatory law
  • Public law litigation

Staff Solicitors

Lucy Rishworth
Lucy Rishworth LLB/BA

Lucy joined Rishworth Wall and Mathieson in 2011. She specialises in all aspects of criminal and family law work and is a registered Family Legal Advice Service Provider with the Ministry of Justice.

  • Criminal law
  • Family law
  • Limited licence applications
Ann-Jolena Baker
Ann-Jolena Baker LLB

Ann-Jolena graduated from the University of Waikato in 2014 and worked as a lawyer in Gisborne for two years before joining the firm in 2016. The majority of her work is in family law and criminal defence. Ann-Jolena is a member of the Gisborne branch of the New Zealand Law Society, and a Board of Trustees member for Sonrise Christian School.

  • Family law
  • Parenting matters
  • Domestic violence proceedings
  • Criminal law
  • Limited licences