New Zealand Law Society - John Key's big thanks to Friday Flagon clubber

John Key's big thanks to Friday Flagon clubber

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By Jock Anderson

Nathan Douglas (Nathan) Smith
Entry to law
Graduated from Waikato University LLB, Bachelor of Social Sciences 1999. Admitted 2000. 
Barrister sole and principal of Bay of Plenty-based Legal Disputes and Litigation Ltd. 
Speciality area
Building and construction - including leaky homes - contracts, insurance, property leases, company and directors liability, mediation and civil litigation.
Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith’s website proudly displays a glowing commendation from Prime Minister John Key for an outstanding outcome he achieved on behalf of fire-ravaged constituents.

Nathan went into bat for the distressed folk in 2010, not long after setting up his own practice in Tauranga.

“I got a call from Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, who I went to Waikato University with, telling me of an unfortunate case of two of Mr Key’s constituents being declined insurance cover in relation to a fire.

“They didn’t have any money to engage a lawyer and Simon asked if I would have a look at it for them.

“I spoke to them and agreed to help…they had pretty much lost their whole house … and the insurers eventually agreed to give them a good result.

“It didn’t take too long to get a good result and we did not have to issue proceedings,” Nathan says. “I was pretty pleased with the result we got for the people.”

So was John Key.

Noting that an initial insurer offer of $20,000 was never going to solve the couple’s problems – Mr Key was most impressed with a successful payout of more than $152,000 achieved by Nathan.

“Congratulations on an outstanding outcome,” Mr Key wrote. “This was a most unfortunate event and the issue with the insurance company made it impossible for them to start rebuilding their lives.”

“Please accept my heartiest appreciation for your assistance and work in this matter. Hopefully we won’t require your services again but on the off chance we do, it’s great to know where to go!” Mr Key wrote, in a letter which takes pride of place on Nathan’s website.

Armed also with a social sciences degree Nathan started his career in Hamilton and Auckland, dealing a lot with leaky building cases before moving to his Tauranga home town in 2003.

He found Tauranga had plenty of leaky home cases, one of his more memorable being a $1 million-plus settlement of a dispute that had been raging for a few years and eventually settled close to trial.

A keen social cyclist, he has competed about six times in the 160km race round Lake Taupo alongside his brother, clocking up a best time of 4 hours 39 minutes.

“My uncle has done the race 20 years in a row with a best time of 4 hours 36 minutes, so it’s my goal to beat that.”

Brought up on a farm in upper Oropi, 20 kms south of Tauranga, he’s a keen outdoorsman.

“I jog at lunchtime and used to kayak to work some days. One of the good things about a recession was being able to find good office accommodation close to the water.

“The extended family have a bach at Kaiawa on the Firth of Thames, with three or four boats and we get out fishing as often as we can.”

And he and wife Katy are big cricket fans.

To celebrate their wedding anniversary and St Valentine’s Day, they went to Eden Park for New Zealand’s cliff-hanger win over South Africa in the World Cup, coupled with catching the Finn Brothers concert at Auckland Zoo.

The cricket just happened to “coincide” with a turnout of some 30 stalwarts for the 20th reunion of the Waikato University Friday Flagon Club.

“Some guys came over from Australia and one came from London, but finding flagons was harder than we thought … we had to detour through Hamilton and find a brewer who had some.

“The Lion Red men-only FFC is made up of mainly professionals, including currency traders, a kiwi fruit marketers, IT guys and a bloke who markets lingerie for pregnant women…

“There have been reunions in Sydney and China.

“It was a big weekend…"

Preferring a Rotorua-brewed Croucher Pilsner now, Nathan last year went on to the board of governors of the local Rudolf Steiner school and kindy, where children Benjamin (7), Annabelle (5) and Williams (3) attend.

His wife Katy is also a lawyer but currently spends her time at home with the children. “We met at the clichéd law school ball at Waikato.”

Projects at home include completing a chicken hutch and a flying fox – the latter not as simple as it might seem.

“It took a few weekends to set up … there are steps up to the launch zone and it ends in the water … the kids think its great wading out to start again.”

A fan of American science-geeky sitcom Big Bank Theory, Nathan also enjoys historical fiction in the Ken Follett Pillars of the Earth style.

Read selection, historical fiction, Ken Follett – Pillars of the Earth…

“I am not a blogger and I must be the only person not on Facebook. I don’t like too much exposure to technology … I like being outdoors – it clears the mind.”

Jock Anderson has been writing and commenting on New Zealand lawyers and New Zealand's courts for several decades. He also writes the weekly Caseload column for the New Zealand Herald. Contact Jock at

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