Activist to keep house as rates revolt ends

6:33 pm on 17 May 2018

Activist Penny Bright has reluctantly accepted Auckland Council's long-standing offer to postpone the payment of her unpaid rates until she sells her home or dies.

Penny Bright

Penny Bright Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The council went to the High Court to force the sale of Ms Bright's home, in order to recover $89,000 in unpaid rates, penalties and legal fees.

The 11-year fight, which included multiple court hearings, finally ended today in a meeting between Ms Bright and the council.

Ms Bright said she had stage three ovarian cancer and wanted to focus on her health, not the looming prospect of the forced sale of her home.

"That's been a major source of stress for me," she said.

"It hasn't quite sunk in yet ... but what that means basically is my 11-year rates dispute with Auckland City Council and Auckland Council has come to a halt."

Ms Bright has lived at her Kingsland property since she paid $140,000 for it in 1990.

It now has a rateable valuation of $1.4 million.

She did not paid her rates for the past 11 years in a protest calling for more transparency from the council regarding how rates are spent.

While she lost the legal battle, Ms Bright said her fight had not been futile.

"I believe that my one-woman rates revolt has helped to put a massive public spotlight on the issue," she said.

Auckland Council said it was pleased to have come to an agreement with Ms Bright.

Chief financial officer Matthew Walker said it had always been the council's preference to allow her to stay in her home.

The High Court had been told of the outcome and the council would be withdrawing the rating sale of Ms Bright's house, he said.

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