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 as a Crown prosecutor for over a decade 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. 

 She was appointed a specialist Youth Advocate in criminal proceedings in 2015.

Tiana also appeared as independent counsel to assist the Coroner in 2018 in relation to a number of inquests conducted on the East Coast. In November 2019, she was appointed independent counsel to assist the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care and Faith Based Institutions.

In October 2018, Tiana was elected the 31st President of the New Zealand Law Society. She took up office in April 2019. She is the first lawyer from Gisborne to become President of the New Zealand Law Society.

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


Lucy Rishworth
Lucy Rishworth LLB/BA

Lucy joined Rishworth Wall and Mathieson in 2011 and became an associate of the firm in 2019. She is an experienced litigator in both the District Court and the Family Court. Lucy is able to assist individuals with all criminal and family matters, including care of children, domestic violence and relationship property. She is also able to act and advise on fisheries and transport matters.

Lucy has volunteered at the Gisborne Citizen’s Advice Bureau, providing free legal advice sessions, since 2012.

  • Criminal law
  • Family law
  • Limited licence applications