John McCay

Partner Kaiurungi


John is an experienced commercial and public sector lawyer. He has particular expertise and interest in the resources, technology, gaming, sports, film and entertainment, and arts and culture sectors.

John undertakes a broad range of legal work with an emphasis on corporate governance, commercial contracting and procurement, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), joint ventures, intellectual property, and screen production financing. He advises New Zealand Government agencies, local government, and private sector entities and is a trusted adviser to clients including Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Waka Kotahi and TAB New Zealand.

A leader in New Zealand’s internationally renowned film and media industry for a number of years, John advises technology and media clients, film financiers, and producers on large scale procurement and supply arrangements. He is a board member of the New Zealand Film Commission and New Zealand On Air and sits on both the New Zealand Screen Production Grant Panel (which considers applications for the NZSPG) and the Co-productions Committee (that considers all applications for official New Zealand co-production treaty status).

John is also an experienced public sector lawyer. He specialises in public law, corporate governance in the public sector, public sector contracting, probity, and the development and implementation of government incentive schemes designed to further New Zealand’s economic development.

John’s in-depth knowledge of the industries in which he advises allows him to tailor his advice in the way that is most relevant to the commercial context. Clients appreciate his understanding of the environment in which they work and praise him as having "commercial expertise, very strong customer focus and the ability to cut through for problem resolution”- Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022. He has also been described as “a highly effective lawyer who provides sage, commercial and practical advice" - Chambers Asia-Pacific 2021.

Consistently recognised as a leading TMT, entertainment, information technology and sports lawyer, John has been listed by publications such as Asialaw, Australian Legal Business Guide, The Best Lawyers in New Zealand and Expert Guide to the World’s Leading Technology, Media & Telecommunications Lawyers. He was named Best Lawyers 'Lawyer of the Year 2022' for Media Law and recognised in the categories of Entertainment and Information Technology.

Career highlights

Advising the New Zealand Government on the negotiations with Amazon Studios and Amazon to secure New Zealand as the production base for Amazon Studios’ “The Rings of Power”. The New Zealand Screen Production Grant 5% Uplift was made available to the production in exchange for Amazon delivering significant economic benefits to New Zealand. At the time of negotiation, this was the largest screen incentive deal ever negotiated between a studio and a government.

Advising Project NEXT, the Waka Kotahi led project, on an ongoing basis for the procurement of a national public transport ticketing solution by Waka Kotahi and New Zealand regional public transport authorities. This is a significant procurement transaction involving the provision of both ticketing services and financial services for an open-loop, account-based, national ticketing solution to deliver a better user experience for users of public transport and a more efficient public transport system.

Acting for Taharoa Mining Investments Limited on its acquisition of the iron sands mine at Taharoa from BlueScope and advising on the ongoing expansion and development of the operation, shipping, and export sales of one of New Zealand’s largest export businesses.

Advising TAB New Zealand on its international rights and broadcasting arrangements with key commercial partners, such as Tabcorp, to secure international rights and to commercialise New Zealand broadcast rights. Advising on the wagering arrangements that are supported by this coverage, delivering New Zealand’s race betting and sports betting systems which provide significant benefits to New Zealand racing and sports sectors.

Advising InternetNZ on the development of its services including the implementation of additional security systems to continually improve the security of the internet in New Zealand. InternetNZ is the home and guardian for the .nz domain, providing the infrastructure, security, and support to allow the safe use of the internet in New Zealand.

Acting as trusted adviser to public sector and private sector organisations and boards on discrete corporate governance issues including conflict management and the proper exercise of directors’ duties.

  • Board Member, New Zealand on Air
  • Board Member, New Zealand Film Commission
  • Trustee, Wellington Arts Foundation
  • Trustee, Limbs4all Trust
Achievements and recognition
  • Recognised, Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) , Chambers Asia-Pacific
  • Band 1 team, Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT), Chambers Asia-Pacific
  • Band 1 team, Corporate/Commercial, Chambers Asia-Pacific
  • Leading Individual, Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT), The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific
  • Tier 1 team, Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT), The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific
  • Recognised, Entertainment Law, Best Lawyers
  • Recognised, Media Law, Best Lawyers
  • Recognised, Information Technology Law, Best Lawyers
  • Recognised, Sports Law, Best Lawyers