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Ed Sheeran

Rates pressure aims to shame

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Rates pressure aims to shame Maori

A far north Iwi leader says the Far North District Council's rating policy is designed to strike fear among Māori landowners, and it needs to change.

The council says there is $20 million in outstanding rates of Māori land.

Haami Piripi from Te Rarawa says that's because the council has a policy of levying rates against land it knows is unproductive or landlocked, adding penalties when they are not paid, and then writing off the total after seven years.

He says other councils have a different way of handling the problem.

"It’s really grossly unfair to apply that tightening grip on our communities and make us feel like we are shirking our responsibilities and it’s not the case. Iwi are probably the largest ratepayers in the district and you would never know it. Even as the largest ratepayers we don’t exert any influence," Mr Piripi says.

Even though Māori can't be sold for unpaid rates, the council has pressured some owners to change their land to general land, and there have also been cases where elderly owners have been so afraid of the mounting debt they have sold their land to pay it.

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