Chris Spargo


Ph: 07 343 1629

About Chris

Chris was born and bred in Waihi and both his parents were raised on dairy farms.  He graduated from the University of Waikato in 1997 and in 2003 formed the partnership of BlackmanSpargo with Ian Blackman.  He has practiced in the rural sector for over twenty years.

In 2011, Chris attended the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, a course designed to develop emerging agribusiness leaders.  He chaired the 2014 New Zealand Law Society Rural Law Conference and presented a paper on Fonterra at that conference again in 2017.

He was also appointed to the Geyser Community Foundation Board of Trustees in 2014, a foundation designed for the purpose of ensuring charitable gifts are managed as originally intended for the chosen charity or the benefit of the Rotorua and Taupo communities.

In his spare time Chris enjoys all sports, family time and supporting his motorsporting son, as a mechanic, in his karting.

Sandy Van Den Heuvel


Ph: 07 343 9709

About Sandy

On leaving high school, Sandy worked for a local law firm which Ian Blackman also later joined.  She completed her legal executive certificate and worked with Ian Blackman for many years as a registered legal executive.  Ian encouraged her to obtain a law degree.

In 2010, Sandy graduated with a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours from Waikato University.

Sandy has first hand experience in farming matters having owned a farm locally.  With most of her family now grown she has downsized but still lives rurally on a small lifestyle block.

Rachel Petterson


Ph: 07 343 9707

About Rachel

After leaving high school, Rachel worked full-time while studying for a diploma in business.

Rachel started with BlackmanSpargo at its inception in 2003. While working at BlackmanSpargo she obtained a law degree and was admitted to the bar in 2010.

A large component of her work involves legal structures and estate and succession planning for many kinds of rural operations, including dairying, forestry and orcharding.  Rachel also assists clients with obtaining consent from the Overseas Investment Office.

Ian Blackman


Ph: 07 343 9393

About Ian

Ian’s diverse career experience includes employment with the Treasury, the Department of Inland Revenue, the Department of Labour and the Rural Banking & Finance Corporation.

In the early 1980s, Ian was the lending manager of the Rural Bank in Rotorua and in 1985 he moved into private practice in Rotorua. He utilised his rural banking background to build a strong rural client base.

Ian specialises in commercial rural legal work. A significant aspect of his work now involves legal structures, estate planning and succession planning for farming families.

Ian speaks publicly to groups of farmers and professionals, including the BNZ Farmers Conference in Rotorua, the Large Herds Conference in Christchurch and most recently the Succession Planning Summit at Massey University.

Ian has written a book on trusts and succession planning entitled “Keeping Farming in the Family – a guide to farm succession”. The book is an indispensable guide for farming families who are interested in creating a workable succession plan. For more information or to order a copy of “Keeping Farming in the Family” please click here.

Veronica MacKenzie


Ph: 07 343 9704

About Veronica

Veronica moved to Rotorua to join the BlackmanSpargo team in May 2019.  She graduated from the University of Otago with a law degree and an arts degree and was admitted to the bar at the Rotorua High Court in September 2019.

Veronica was born and bred in Otago/Southland on a sheep, beef and goat farm. Having worked on the farm she has had first-hand experience with farming matters.

Debbie Crawford


Ph: 07 343 1626

About Debbie

Debbie has had first-hand experience in farming matters having come from a farming background.  After leaving high school, she held important positions within the law enforcement, rural and health sectors whilst studying full time.

In 2020, Debbie graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) from the University of Waikato.  She joined the BlackmanSpargo team in March 2021 with a keen interest in environmental and rural law and was admitted to the bar at the Invercargill High Court in June 2021.

Corey Vickers


Ph: 07 343 9702

About Corey

Corey moved to Rotorua to join the BlackmanSpargo team in May 2022.  She had previously worked as a law clerk and graduate solicitor for a firm in Hamilton.  Corey graduated from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Business Communications and was admitted to the bar in the Hamilton High Court in December 2021.

Corey was born and bred in rural Taranaki.  She comes from a large extended farming family.  Growing up on her parent’s farm-let, Corey got the best Taranaki could offer with both experience in small scale farming and the coastal lifestyle.

Corey is a member of New Zealand Young Farmers.  She is heavily involved with the Waikato/Bay of Plenty region on a district and regional level, and committee level.

Melissa Martin

Senior Registered Legal Executive

Ph: 07 343 1625

About Melissa

Melissa has been with BlackmanSpargo since its inception in 2003.

She started working for Ian Blackman as his secretary and is now a senior legal executive working for Chris Spargo.

She qualified as a legal executive in 1996 and specialises in rural conveyancing and asset planning, however she also works in other complementary areas of rural law.

Melissa has three adult children.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and being outdoors, fishing and kayaking with her partner.

Anne Hodge

Senior Registered Legal Executive

Ph: 07 343 1628

About Anne

Anne is a senior registered legal executive working for Rachel Petterson.

Anne qualified as a legal executive in 1988.  She predominantly works in rural conveyancing, asset planning and estates.

Anne was born and grew up in Rotorua.  Following her OE and working in a London law firm for many years, she returned with her husband and three children from the UK in 2006, joining BlackmanSpargo in June of that year.  She enjoys spending time with her family.

Hannah Burt

Registered Legal Executive

Ph: 07 343 9700

About Hannah

Hannah has worked in various roles.  She joined the firm in January 2015 as our office junior, became our receptionist in July 2017 and took on a legal secretarial position in 2019.  Hannah then completed her legal executive diploma in July 2020 and is now working in Sandy’s team as a legal executive.

In Hannah’s spare time she likes to spend as much time as possible with her daughter.

Adrienne Hall

Senior Legal Secretary

Ph: 07 343 1622

About Adrienne

Adrienne is Sandy Van Den Heuvel’s secretary.

Adrienne has worked in an administrative/secretarial capacity for a variety of organisations in Australia, Auckland and Wellington before joining BlackmanSpargo as lan Blackman’s secretary in 2003.

Her activities outside work time revolve around teaching and performing music.

Rachel Anderson

Senior Legal Secretary/Administrator

Ph: 07 343 9701

About Rachel

Rachel joined the team at BlackmanSpargo in 2012 and is now working remotely after returning to the Manawatu with her family in 2022.  Rachel has 18 years’ experience working within law.

Rachel is the legal secretary for Rachel Petterson and Anne Hodge.  She also provides administrative assistance to Sheree Bennett, the practice manager.

Rachel spends her free time with her young family, mountain biking, listening to music and gardening.

Rebecca Neame

Legal Secretary

Ph: 07 343 9702

About Rebecca

Rebecca started with us in August 2016 as our office junior, became our receptionist in 2019 and is now a legal secretary working in Rachel’s team.

Rebecca is Rotorua born and bred, and finished JPC in 2015.

She has experience in customer service and is enjoying working in a law office environment.

Jessica Meyer


Ph: 07 343 9393

About Jessica

Jessica joined the BlackmanSpargo team in March 2020 as our Office Junior and became our receptionist in October 2020.  She has a certificate in tourism, has experience working in customer service and has worked for one of the largest tourist attractions in New Zealand.

Jessica was born and raised in Rotorua and went to John Paul College.

She is looking forward to learning about rural law and being part of our team.

Savanna Ropitini

Office Junior

Ph: 07 343 9705

About Savanna

Savanna was born and raised in Rotorua.  She left Rotorua Lakes High School in 2020 to study level 4 office administration and technology at Toi Ohomai, where she graduated as an A+ student.

Savanna joined BlackmanSpargo in March 2021 as our office junior and is excited to put her newly learnt skills into practice.  She’s enjoying the journey learning about rural law.

Emma Bennett

Trust Administration Manager

Ph: 07 343 1621

About Emma

Emma is our trust administration manager and joined the team in August 2021 during lockdown.  She was born and raised in Edgecumbe and spent some time in Dunedin then Hamilton working for ACC before deciding to pursue a career in law.

She is currently completing her legal executive diploma and will become fully qualified in June 2022.

Sheree Bennett

Practice Manager

Ph: 07 343 9706

About Sheree

Sheree manages the office and is responsible for all administrative functions of the business including human resources, information technology, marketing and running both trust and office accounts.

She has been with BlackmanSpargo since June 2006 and worked for Ian and Chris prior to the formation of BlackmanSpargo.

Sheree has spent many years abroad and has worked for law firms in both London and New Zealand. She is also a member of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Practice Managers’ Group.

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