Our History

150 years of history

Derek Player retired

3 years ago

Derek Player retired after 22 years at the firm and over 40 years in practice.

April 2020

May 2019

150 Years

3 years ago

Miller Poulgrain Lawyers was established in 1869 and have reached our 150 year anniversary this year. 


6 years ago

Over those past 150 years, the town of Thames went from supporting gold-mining and logging to supporting instead a number of foundries, a local fishing fleet, dairying and dry stock farming, a car assembly plant, a hospital, a district council and tourism to name but a few of the area’s enterprises.

We feel that we have more than met the challenges of those changing times, and are proud to have come this far providing continuity of service to our clients whilst retaining their loyalty and being able to continue to deliver the quality legal services they have come to expect of us.

This is, to us, the most important aspect of our history – the long-term associations that we enjoy with local families and family businesses where the solicitor/client relationship may span three or four generations.

May 2017

April 2016

Current partnership

7 years ago

In April 2016 Maree Hayward joined Rodney Poulgrain and Graeme Beagley in partnership, with Brian Crabb continuing in the firm as a Consultant.  Brian was a partner in the firm for 33 years.

Turn of the millennium

28 years ago

Jim Poulgrain retired at the end of 1995 and Ron Randall in 2000 in the same year that Graeme Beagley started with the firm. Graeme joined the partnership in 2006 around which time the ampersand was dropped from the firm name to become Miller Poulgrain.

March 1995

March 1978

Late 1900s

45 years ago

In 1978, John Rennie resigned to practice on his own account and the firm moved from Pollen Street to new purpose-built premises on the corner of Sealey and Mackay Streets from which the firm continues to carry on business today.

The next year saw Brian Crabb join the firm as a staff solicitor and in 1983, as a partner.

At the end of that year, Rodney Poulgrain (son of G.A. Poulgrain), having worked as a staff solicitor at Rudd Garland & Horrocks in Auckland, moved back to Thames, and became a partner in 1986 shortly before Heather Simpson resigned to accept her appointment as a District Court Judge. She was sworn in at the Thames District Court on 30 January 1987.


74 years ago

At the end of 1949 after working for Sexton & Manning, Geoffrey Alan Poulgrain (a son of C.H. Poulgrain, and known as Jim) moved back to Thames and joined the partnership in 1952.

In 1957 Ronald Randall joined the firm as a staff solicitor and in 1960 became a partner with F.S. Miller, C.H. Poulgrain and G.A. Poulgrain. Mr C.H. Poulgrain retired in 1965 and Mr F.S. Miller in 1972 while new partners John M. Rennie and Heather M. Simpson were admitted in 1970 and 1979 respectively.

March 1949

March 1926

Early 1900s

97 years ago

In 1926, the firm followed the general movement of business from Grahamstown to central Thames and built new office premises at 457 Pollen Street. Shortly after that, Mr C.J. Garland joined the firm as a staff solicitor and later as a partner in the early 1930s when Mr E.N. Miller retired.

Jack Garland left the firm in 1936 to join Laurie Rudd in partnership in Auckland. Mr Wilfred Fortune next joined the partnership but the war years affected the continuity of his practice and in about 1945 he joined Sexton & Manning in Auckland.

Miller & Poulgrain

141 years ago

In 1882, Mr MacDonald was appointed Chief Judge of the Native Land Court and Mr Miller continued the practice alone until he was joined by his son Ernest Napier Miller in 1900 and the firm became known as Miller & Son.

Mr J.A. Miller died in 1907, and in 1921 Mr E.N. Miller was joined in partnership by his brother Frederick Selwyn Miller and Cecil Horace Poulgrain (son of J.W. Poulgrain), still at the Albert Street office in Grahamstown.

The firm name changed to Miller & Poulgrain at that time.

March 1882

March 1869

The beginning

154 years ago

In 1869, two years after the borough of Thames was established at a time when the town boasted a bustling gold-mining industry and a larger population than Auckland, James Armstrong Miller commenced legal practice in Thames and was joined in partnership in 1871 by John Edwin MacDonald.

The two practised from premises in Albert Street, Thames. In that same year, John William Poulgrain was taken on as an articled clerk who later acted as managing clerk until he retired in 1931 after 60 years of service.