In early 1925 Keith Alexander Woodward commenced practice in Gisborne in partnership with Geoffrey John Jeune. Their offices were at 1 Gladstone Road.

In about 1936 that partnership was dissolved. Geoff Jeune then practised on his own account at 1 Gladstone Road until he was appointed a Judge of the Maori Land Court in 1954.

Keith Woodward established an office at 50 Childers Road and practised there on his own account until 1942 when he went into partnership with D’Arcy Walter Iles.

D’Arcy Iles, a returned soldier, who was admitted as a solicitor in 1925 and as a barrister in 1930, had been in practice on his own account in Gisborne since about 1933.

Keith Woodward, an ebullient person with a readiness to take on a great variety of legal work, firmly established the spirit and tone of the firm. He was prominent in many areas of Gisborne city life: business, sporting (especially rugby) and social. He remained with the firm until 1984.

D’Arcy Iles applied his considerable skills to litigation and, in particular, to the preparation of matters to be heard in the Supreme Court (now the High Court). He retired in the early 1970s. His son, Walter Iles, who worked for the firm for a short time became New Zealand’s chief law draftsman. He was appointed a QC in 1989.

In 1951 Edgar Furness (commonly known as Bill Furness) joined the firm, which then became Woodward Iles & Furness. A most capable conveyance and commercial lawyer, he died suddenly in 1960 at the age of 46.

The firm then became Woodward Iles & Co.

Later partners were Tony Kay, who left to work in London; and Charles Chauvel from French Polynesia, who joined in 1960 and worked until his retirement in 1998.

Four other partners became judges – Phil Cooper and Denys Barry are still working as judges, John Gatley has retired and the late Dick Kearney was a District Court Judge and member of the Waitangi Tribunal.

The firm’s only other four partners were Debra Smallholme, now a Disputes Tribunal referee in Auckland, Bruce Carey and Geoff Bibby, who recently retired and Yvonne de Vries-Smith who relocated to Palmerston North in 2014.


Chrisp and Chrisp was a real family business which was started in 1884 by E J Chrisp. He later formed a partnership with the Coleman brothers creating Coleman and Chrisp.

When that partnership dissolved, E J Chrisp and his brother Ernest built an office in Childers Road taking the name of Chrisp & Chrisp. E J’s son Harry then joined the firm in 1919. Nephew Dawson joined in 1923.

Tony (Harry’s son) joined in 1958, well known local sporting identity Wayne Callaghan came on board in 1971 and Tony Adeane in 1974 – these three partners forming the latter day Chrisp & Chrisp until Tony Adeane’s appointment as a District Court judge in 1984.

Tony Chrisp retired to Taupo in 1999 and the last remaining partner, Wayne Callaghan, moved to the amalgamated firm of Woodward Chrisp in 2002.   Wayne, who was a hugely popular local identity, sadly died in 2005.


The present day firm of Woodward Chrisp has three partners; Ross Revington, Adam Simperingham and Jeff Allen.  We have five associates; Ellie FitzGerald, Katherine Callaghan, Bryony Shackell, Michael Lynch (Solicitors) and Sue Cameron (Legal Executive). Including the partners and associates, the firm has17 solicitors, two legal executives and a support staff of ten. Our modern premises are in the refurbished Wilson James Centre, although to some locally, it will always be known as the “Power Board building”.