David Butler


Real Estate & Construction

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David is Russell McVeagh's Board Chair and has built a reputation over more than 20 years as a leading real estate and construction lawyer in New Zealand. He has a track record of advising on the most significant and complex real estate deals and development projects. David is regularly approached to assist new entrants to the New Zealand market and is highly experienced in managing the overseas investment approval process.
David's clients include both domestic and offshore REITs, superannuation and sovereign wealth funds, high net worth families and other real estate investors, developers and occupiers with interests across the real estate sector.

David is recognised as a leading New Zealand Real Estate lawyer by Chambers and Partners 2024 Asia Pacific Guide, and a Leading Individual in Property and Construction law in the Legal 500 2024 Asia Pacific Guide. He is recognised by Best Lawyers® 2024 Guide for Real Estate law (where he was selected as 'Lawyer of the Year' in the 2023 Guide) and has been recognised in the Guide since 2014. He is also listed in the peer-nominated Doyles Guide 2020 as a Leading lawyer in Property & Real Estate.

Client feedback in Chambers and Partners 2022 Guide emphasised David's expertise in the Real Estate and Construction sector, with clients noting David:

  • "is a highly regarded real estate lawyer in Russell McVeagh's Auckland office, where he frequently acts for inbound clients on capital transactions and development projects."
  • "excellent leader and commercially focused lawyer."
  • "a pleasure to deal with."


David's recent experience includes advising:

  • Kiwi Property on the sale of land and proposed development of the first IKEA in New Zealand.
  • Precinct Property on the ongoing development of Wynyard Central, Auckland the largest  innovation precinct in New Zealand, including the 14,000 sqm lease to Beca.
  • A sovereign wealth fund and Logos Property on the acquisition and development of a 17-hectare logistics estate in Auckland.
  • Joint venture entities on the acquisition and development of land for solar farms throughout New Zealand including obtaining overseas investment approval.
  • Private investors on the acquisition of the Todd Property Group assets.
  • Australian investor on the sale and leaseback of the Mainland Poultry assets in New Zealand including obtaining overseas investment approval.
  • Oyster Property Group on the acquisition of commercial property including Albany Lifestyle Centre, Auckland, Pastoral House, Wellington and Home Straight, Hamilton.
  • Charter Hall on the acquisition of interests in unit trusts which own BP New Zealand and Z Energy retail sites.
  • Head office projects for significant corporates in three new Auckland office buildings.
  • A student accommodation owner and operator on the acquisition and development of a $500m+ student accommodation portfolio, including the construction of four new facilities.
  • Kiwi Property on its joint venture with Tainui Group in relation to land interests at Centre Place North shopping Centre in Hamilton.
  • Private investor on the sale of its interest in new office towers at 20 Customhouse Quay and 1 Whitmore Street Wellington.
More generally, David has advised:
  • Lend Lease on the acquisition and sale of the Dress-Smart portfolio and Meridian Mall.
  • An Australian superannuation fund and Logos Property on the acquisition and development of a new industrial estate in Wiri, Auckland.
  • Listed entities on the acquisitions and divestments of major shopping centres throughout New Zealand, including The Base Shopping Centre (Hamilton), Lynn Mall (Auckland), North City (Wellington).
  • Kiwi Property on the acquisition of a 50-hectare site for its Drury town centre development.
  • Institutional investors, developers and occupiers on the sale, leasing and construction of new office towers, including advising on head office projects for ASB Bank, Fonterra, Lion, Google and Genesis Energy.
  • Owners and tenants on seismic related issues including construction contracts for major strengthening projects in Wellington.
  • Local and overseas residential developers on the acquisition, subdivision and sale of green field sites, including negotiating development agreements with Auckland Council.
  • Overseas and local parties on the acquisition and divestment of farmland and vineyards, including advising on the sale of Pinny Farms and acquisition of Wither Hills vineyards.


LLB, BA University of Canterbury.


David joined Russell McVeagh as a graduate in 2000 before leaving in 2004 to join the Real Estate team at Clifford Chance in London.

He rejoined Russell McVeagh in early 2009 and became a partner in 2010.

Before becoming Russell McVeagh Board Chair in 2024, he'd served as a member on the Board since 2022.

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