The Cooper Story

The firm was founded by Stuart Shepherd, known as Tui. Tui returned to New Zealand from Australia in 1943 and came to Morrinsville where his father had been headmaster of Lincoln Street School. Tui had been a pilot officer in charge of the local Air Training Corps unit.

The demise of the accounting firm Westwater Brothers left an opportunity for Tui to establish an accounting practice basically founded on farm and small business accounting. At this time Ryan and Aitken, and also John Doube, had accounting practices in town and these firms later became part of our history.

Tui had an attractive personality and became Deputy Mayor of Morrinsville.

His business grew and Tui employed Gordon Menzies and Garry Barnett. In 1952 the firm became known as Shepherd, Menzies & Barnett.  

Tui had studied accountancy but was not qualified due to the intervention of the war.  The firm could not therefore be called ‘Public Accountants’.






Initially the firm occupied small premises on the northern side of Thames Street, in the AR John’s building.  In 1953 it moved and they were situated upstairs in the building on the corner of Thames Street and Moorhouse Street, now the ANZ bank.

Unfortunately Tui died suddenly in his early forties. He had very good relationships with his clients and was held in high esteem. Gary Cave became a partner soon after Tui died and had 40 plus years with the firm. The staff had much respect for Gary and when he had his ‘business hat’ on they knew they had to work, and if he had a deadline they would make sure the work was done on time. Outside of work time he liked to have a good laugh and especially loved getting the team up to dance at the Christmas parties.


Gordon Menzies (left) was an outstanding mathematician and a very competent accountant so it was a great loss when he left for Auckland in the 1960’s. This led to Garry Barnett and Gary Cave holding the fort until a year or so later when Brian Allison joined. The firm became known as Barnett, Cave & Allison. 

To encourage potential clients through the door the firm acted as collection agents for several organisations, e.g. the Northern Building Society and New Zealand Insurance Company and the firm flourished.

Many new clients were secured thanks to the excellent ideas of Garry Barnett. These included the presentation of farm accounts that were easy to read and understand, also attending and giving presentations to many farm discussion groups.

They regularly visited clients on their farms and relationships were developed with professional peers…. was this the start of accountants being included in decision-making with farmers?

It’s uncanny how these aspects are still most prominent in what CooperAitken looks to achieve today.

Also Garry set the office up with the new computer technology and also developed the BEP system when GST came in which some of our clients who do their own GST still use today.

After a few years with the firm, Brian Allison moved to Auckland and had a very successful career as a consultant for large accounting firms, was chairman for NZ Milk and held other public company directorships.