Donna Badorek is an animal lover - a veterinary nurse by profession, her home and life are filled with animals.

Some she fosters until they find new homes, but she also adopts the unadoptable, and rescues those which would otherwise have no future at all.

Her collection includes half a dozen pigs, a Captain Cooker and five kunikunis. But now the pigs have to go, and Donna is preparing to sell up and go with them.

Donna, a solo mum as well as a full-time vet nurse, bought the house on the edge of Kaitaia, with a distinct rural aspect, three and a half years ago. She had, and still has, no neighbour at the back, while the owners of the vacant section next door had been happy for her menagerie to keep the grass down.

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Now the owners of that section are preparing to build, and although they have not yet made a start, they have complained to the Far North District Council about the pigs.

They should be moved to the back of the property, the council said. So move they did. Donna saved up, and others chipped in to build a "palatial" pig sty at the back, up a steep incline from the house. But that hasn't been good enough.

Two weeks after the council told Donna that the pigs needed new quarters, it told her that another complaint had been received regarding smell, and they could not stay there.

Last week Donna didn't know where that complaint came from, but another, totally uninvolved party did. He said it had come from another neighbour, who, Donna said, had been there when she moved in and had never said a word.

She disputed the presence of a smell. The Northland Age couldn't detect one from Donna's house, which is closer to the sty than the complaining neighbour is.

She had been prepared to build a wall or plant trees to screen the yet-to-build neighbour's view of the sty, but that offer was rejected.

The foundation of the problem was laid earlier this year, when the council, without consultation, re-zoned Donna's property from rural to residential. The bylaw that then came into play says pigs cannot be kept within 50m of a boundary, but even given the generous proportions of her property Donna cannot achieve that.

Meanwhile she was initially given 12 to 18 months to make other arrangements for the pigs. That was then reduced by the council to two weeks. Now she has a third deadline - a week tomorrow.

She had somewhere to shift them to, although she said that would involve the effort and expense of building a new sty, and she was in the process of packing up her possessions, her children and her animals so that if or when her house sells, which she hoped it would sooner rather than later, she would be able to leave as quickly as possible.

She said last week that she believed the smell complaint was fabricated. A council employee who inspected the property on a hot, sunny day had made no mention of an odour - and while she accepted that there wasn't much she could do about that she believed she had been treated unfairly.

Council Response
Rules are rules

The Far North District Council understood Ms Badorek's distress, but the council had to balance the needs of all residents, and act on complaints received, especially where regulations had been breached.

In this case Ms Badorek was in breach of the Keeping of Animals, Poultry and Bees bylaw, which required that pigs be kept 50 metres from a boundary.

There had been no recent zone changes in Kaitaia.

General manager district services Dean Myburgh said the council had some time ago received a complaint from the owners of a vacant property next door to Ms Badorek, who intended to build a house there.

Council staff told Ms Badorek that she must remove the pigs before her neighbours finished building the house and moved in, provided that no further complaints were received.

"Unfortunately, a second complaint was received, meaning the pigs must be moved sooner. Staff gave Ms Badorek two weeks to comply," Dr Myburgh said.

"She later informed us that she could not meet that deadline, and a one-week extension was given. She now has until October 13 to remove the pigs.

"We realise that rehoming pigs cannot be easy, but I believe council staff have been fair and patient with Ms Badorek. We must also be fair to other residents, who have made legitimate complaints about pigs being kept in their neighbourhood," he added.