A ratepayer I know sent me the following rant awhile back. He’s a university grad, built a successful business here in Hawke’s Bay … as best I can tell, a sane and reasonable fellow.

But as he says below … “I am a barbarian.” And he’s annoyed about Council spending … in this case, HDC. So as we close in on the deadlines for Annual Plan (budget) submissions, you might give him a listen. I don’t agree with all he has to say. But I will say he expresses a point of view I do hear a lot as BayBuzz editor.

From The Barbarian …

Next time you drive past the Haumoana dump take a look at the charges board. I took a tandem trailer there recently with several bins of free recycling stuff (30%) and other farm type materials that had built up and had to be dumped. $50!

This is up from about $12 a few years ago and since the HDC outsourced the operation to Walmsley the prices have shot up. Haumoana is not a wealthy community and it is a long drive to Flaxmere.

Where do you think much of the local rubbish is being dumped? The poor polluted Tukituki. My neighbours on nearby Tennant Road say they see numerous laden utes/trailers head down the river late at night and mysteriously return empty ( turning their lights off as they pass houses to avoid ID).

We get no sewage, water or rubbish collection out here. And now a dump that is priced beyond the average person.

What do my rates pay for that I consider necessities and council core business?

I go fishing, to the beach, visit friends, host BBQs, go to the river (less now, as it smells), ride motorbikes with the kids, shoot rabbits – cool outdoor stuff. And there are SO MANY in HB just like me – that’s why we like it here.

I am a barbarian – I don’t:

  • Go to the library (all my reading is either purchased as books or online)
  • Go to the Opera house – a wonderful facility for those interested
  • Go cycling around in circles in lycra – a great sport but not for me
  • Go to the museum – the past is the past – not for me
  • Go to galleries of any sort – a tree will always be more beautiful to me than man’s representation of it
  • Go to Splash Planet – We have never been  – and why has the council funded such a commercial venture?!

I condone multi-use sports parks that constitute a bit of a stadium, netball, tennis courts around a big grass paddock. That is a useful facility for many and all (they are hugely utilized especially in the winter weekends) – historically the result of donated land and community sponsorship.

  1. What percentage of rate payers actually utilise these other very expensive facilities? (How many and how often?)
  2. How much would our rates drop if councils returned to truly CORE business?
  3. Can we have a referendum on what people want councils to spend on – on a card listing all non-core spending options. We could allocate $X of our notional $100 to the things we want the council to spend on (excluding core utilities).

The results would I am sure be interesting, because the elite seem to get all the say … but they are not the population.

It is horrifying to think that if I decided to become a hermit on my own debt-free land and never go anywhere, pump my own water, grow my own food etc., I would still have to pay rates – in my case $2,800pa – just to keep the monopoly running.

Wipe the council, sack all the staff and begin again with a brand new Charter. Whaddya recon?


Barbarian or otherwise, you must have a view on Councils’ spending. Make it known!

Submission deadlines: Hastings and HBRC, May 10; Napier, May 16.

Tom Belford

Join the Conversation


  1. I don't contend to be an expert, but surely high landfill charges are a good thing? Research shows that if landfills are cheap, people simply dump more.

    Over recent years in New Zealand, as we have moved to a more user pays system for waste services and at the same time have introduced far better and in most cases free recycling initiatives, whaddayaknow people have started to dump less and recycle more.

    I know pricing has been front of mind in my own decision making. When prices have gone up I've looked for ways to go to the dump less often. I started to recycle more, hell I even started to compost and have a worm farm. I also believe Omaranui landfill is actually run at no cost to ratepayers, could be wrong about that, but I'm sure Tom will correct me if I am telling fibs.

    To the barbarian I also have the odd gripe with my Council, but not about the same things as you, as I do go to the library, I do like cycling and I think the museum and art gallery will be just brilliant.

    Oh and as a Napier resident I just love going to the Opera House and Splash Planet, particularly as they don't cost me a cent on rates.

  2. You certainly are a barbarian.

    Imagine the consternation if the Hastings Council curbed spending on all but core business! You may have to lower rates, eh?

    You don’t want to be financially sound like your neighbors at the port do you? What if the Federal Government heard about this and adopted a savings mentality.

    Get into your lycra and cycle to the museum.


  3. Well you must be reasonably okay i can't afford to buy books any more they are so expensive. It is a good inexpensive outing for the family, where else can you get value for money family entertainment, information to school home work as we can't afford broadband internet. We can't afford to drive out too parks and too many family outings because petrol is too expensive. We have family bike rides to Cornwall Park, the Redwoods etc.

  4. The cycle lanes are a great improvement and myself and the family feel safer biking on the road now. Thanks HDC.

    The Library staff are wonderful and provide a wonderful service and are great ambassadors for the Council. The provide a wide range of materials for our family recreational and homework needs. They provide great activities encouraging reading etc during the holidays for the children. And the archives man there has a great knowledge of the area and provide a wonderful service and preserves our community history for future generations.

  5. We can't afford a pool and the pools HDC provide a great and the kids love splash planet its a treat and great family outing. I like the ratepayer concession card they introduced.

    Live after 5 at the opera House on Fridays is a great way relax and unwind for the week. We are lucky to have such great calibre show on in our wonderful opera House.

  6. I used to live in Taradale,live in Waimarama now, pay the same rates as Taradale and get nothing for it,dont use rubbish collection, pay for own wheelie bin when I rang Council they said I have to pay for rubbish cos it goes past gate so you pay ,same for water,no sewage, septic tank,not even a footpath.Rates should not be on value of property should be on servises provided

    Barbarians Bro

  7. I can see Barbarian's point of view and it would be truly interesting to see how many ratepayers use the services provided, and how often. I, too, object to paying for services I do not use but it would be difficult for councils to individualise items on rates bill to suit each ratepayer.

    I would like to see Councils stick with core Council business, and I consider libraries and parks included in that. I am not sure the tourism committees (with their budget blowouts) are what we should be funding unless very tight controls are adhered to and their existence is measured by their results.

    We need the libraries, cultural centres and sports parks. Not sure about $3million pocket parks (Warren Street) that are only useful to office workers and shop assistants in their lunchbreak.

    Barbarian has a good point that rates are too high in areas that do not have rubbish collection, sewage nor water. This needs to be addressed. If the services are not provided, lower the rates to those areas accordingly.

    I would like to see more 'family orientated' initiatives to keep our young people occupied and involved in community events. I have just returned from a holiday in Nelson – I was impressed by what I saw. The Council there seems proactive in keeping the residents informed and involved in it's decision-making. Great facilities for young people, BMX tracks and amazing cycling infrastructure, not much lycra involved either!

    A referendum would be a great idea for ratepayers to have a say and to keep the Council on track as to what its constituents really want.

    We have a lot of very poor people in Hawkes Bay and Councils can't be seen to be using our money as their honeypot. It is time to get back to basics and look after the majority, not just the well off.

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