Our people

Leona McWilliam

Leona McWilliam


Director | leona@mtlawyers.nz

Leona has been a Director of McWilliam Tyree (previously McWilliam Rennie) for 15 years. Prior to that she worked in London, the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa in all areas of family law.

She specialises in all areas of family law practice and also has a background in areas of criminal and general practice. She is an experienced litigator and undertaking complex relationship property matters involving trusts, companies and economic disparity/maintenance issues. She is also regularly involved in difficult care of children proceedings which include issues of relocation, family violence, addiction and mental health concerns. Leona also regularly represents children in the Family Court.

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Leona lectures for the College of Law in their LLB Masters programme in family law practice management. She is a co-author of “Relationship Property and Adult Maintenance” published by Thomson Reuters and has previously authored for Westlaw in the area of spousal maintenance. Leona has lectured for Whitireia Polytech in family law and has also presented seminars for Legalwise in relation to capacity and the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act. Leona is also a member of the New Zealand Law Society Courts Committee and Early Resolution Complaints Committee and a member of both the New Zealand Family Law Section and the Wellington Family Courts Association.

Leona has a focus on cost effective resolution for clients, which ideally preserves relationships and enables clients to move forward from stressful situations.

Helen Tyree

Helen Tyree


Director | helen@mtlawyers.nz

Helen was an Associate and then Senior Associate at McWilliam Rennie (predecessor of McWilliam Tyree) since 2014. She became a Director of the new McWilliam Tyree in 2021.

Helen has practiced all areas of family law since 2003.

Helen is also a contributing author for the legal publication Westlaw, writing about relationship property agreements (separation agreements, contracting-out agreements, and setting aside those agreements). She also contributed significantly to McWilliam Rennie’s submissions to the Law Commission in relation to their review of relationship property and then succession law.

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She also presents seminars for Legalwise and NZCLE on a range of relationship property matters, relationship property law developments and on the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act.

Helen often acts in complex relationship property matters, including matters involving trusts, companies and economic disparity claims.

Helen is recognised by the Family Court as being sufficiently experienced and qualified to represent children in the Family Court, and is also appointed by the Family Court to represent people who lack capacity in applications for welfare guardians and property managers.

Helen has supported the Wellington Community Law Centre by providing advice to the staff and clients of the Centre and by providing advice at the Family Law Advice Sessions on Wednesdays. She has had involvement with the Community Law Centres in first Taranaki (where she sat on the Board of Trustees) and in Wellington for over 18 years.

Helen Tyree graduated from Otago University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Laws and from Brunel University of London in 2003 with a Master of Law in Child Law and Policy (with distinction). From 2003 she worked in firms in Taranaki specialising in family law before joining McWilliam Rennie in 2014.

Helen has a focus on practical advice and resolution of disputes without the need for court involvement where possible. However she is also an experienced litigator and provides effective representation in court when required.

Sarah Ineson

Sarah Ineson


Special Counsel | sarah@mtlawyers.nz

Sarah Ineson graduated from Victoria University of Wellington in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts (Criminology and Religious Studies). She studied law at Victoria University, Wellington and at the University of Victoria, Canada, completing her law degree in 2004. Sarah initially worked in a general litigation firm, practising in the areas of family law, criminal and parole law, civil litigation and local government.

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Sarah joined McWilliam Rennie Lawyers in 2011 as an Associate.  She currently practices in all aspects of family law including separation, relationship property, contracting out agreements, childcare, and family violence. She has been approved by the Family Court to represent children and as counsel to assist the Court. Alongside her family law work, Sarah also practices in criminal law. Sarah has been a regular presenter for the NZLS CLE Introduction to Family Law Advocacy and Practice course and she is member of the Wellington Family Courts Association.

Emma Va’ai

Emma Va’ai


Senior Associate | emma@mtlawyers.nz

Emma Va’ai graduated from Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington with a Bachelor of Laws in 2004, having graduated the previous year with a Bachelor of Commerce & Administration (majoring in Economics).  Emma has worked in general practice on the Kapiti Coast, and in a specialist family law practice in Porirua.  She joined McWilliam Tyree in 2021.

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Emma has more than 15 years’ experience in all areas of family law, including relationship property, contracting out agreements, care of children, PPPR, adoption, family violence, and Oranga Tamariki matters. She also receives Court appointments in her role as Lawyer for Child, a role she particularly enjoys. Emma has a background in general practice and has a sound understanding of trusts, property and business matters, which she draws on to assist clients. She is skilled in dealing with complex relationship property matters.

Emma is proud to be one of only a few lawyers in New Zealand registered as users of New Zealand Sign Language, having started to learn sign as a young child, and then studied NZSL while at university. She is uniquely able to assist Deaf clients and values accessibility to the law for all people.

Emma is a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Society, and the Wellington Family Courts Association.

Sara Fisher


Associate | sara@mtlawyers.nz

Sara Fisher graduated from Waikato University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Laws.  Sara initially worked in a general litigation firm, followed by practicing as a Family Lawyer in Waihi and Napier.

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Sara joined McWilliam Tyree in 2023 as an Associate.  She practices in all areas of Family Law and takes appointments from the Family Court as Lawyer for Child. Sara also presents at Parenting through Separation and is a member of the Family Court’s Association.

Sara is available to take clients in Wellington and Hawkes Bay.

Harriet Willis


Senior Lawyer | harriet@mtlawyers.nz

Harriet Willis graduated from Victoria University of Wellington in 2019 with a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in development studies and minoring in French and German.  She joined McWilliam Tyree in March 2022, having previously worked in a litigation firm in Lower Hutt since 2019.

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Harriet practices in the areas of family and criminal law. Harriet is a committee member of the Wellington Family Courts Association, and is involved in supporting the Wellington and Hutt Valley Community Law Centre.

Vince Exconde


Lawyer | vince@mtlawyers.nz

Vince graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (majoring in History and Classical Studies). Vince joined McWilliam Tyree in January 2024, after working in a general practice firm in Palmerston North for three years. Vince works in the area of family law.

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Vince’s prior experience includes work involving relationship property, wills and Family Court litigation.  Vince advises in all areas of family law and has a particular interest in complex property cases and matters involving children.  Vince enjoys basketball, American Football, and collecting sneakers.

Ella Buchanan


Law Clerk | ella@mtlawyers.nz

Ella Buchanan graduated from Victoria University of Wellington at the beginning of 2024 with a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in religious studies and political science. She also completed part of her legal studies at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.

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Ella joined McWilliam Tyree in August 2023 as a law clerk and is due to be admitted to the Bar in July 2024. Ella is involved in the areas of family and criminal law.

Jenny Paget

Jenny Paget


Office Manager | jenny@mtlawyers.nz

Jenny looks after the day to day running of the practice, including financial administration, and maintaining the firm’s systems, policies and procedures.

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Jenny is originally from the UK, moving to New Zealand in 2009. She has over 20 years experience working in law firms, in both legal executive and administration roles. She joined McWilliam Rennie in 2017.