12 May 2012

Mangawhai residents march against steep rate rise

5:29 pm on 12 May 2012

Hundreds of residents of the small Northland town of Mangawhai have marched in protest against steep rate rises proposed by the Kaipara District Council.

The council is proposing an average rate increase across the district of 31% as it grapples with a debt of $80 million.

More than $50 million of that is due to a cost blowout in the Mangawhai wastewater scheme.

The chairperson of the Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents Association, Bruce Rogan, estimates more than 2500 people joined the march on Saturday afternoon - more than the town's population.

He says people waved placards and sang songs as they marched to a council meeting.

One marcher, Helen Curreen, says her rates bill is set to rise 60% to $5300 - and she doesn't get much for that.

"We don't have footpaths," Ms Curreen says, "we don't have a council-provided library, we don't have council-provided sportsgrounds, we don't have a council-provided hall.

"We actually don't have anything really provided by the council, so it's in the context of nothing much."

Ms Curreen says she stopped paying rates last September and won't start again until the standoff is resolved.