Tauranga District Court waived more than $5 million in fines in the past three years, according to official figures.
Ministry of Justice records show the court remitted $2,766,278 in fines in 2012, In 2013, the amount was $1,631,826 and it was $1,221,316 last year. The number of fines remitted also decreased each year - down from 4197 in 2012 to 3509 in 2013 and 2887 last year.
Over the three-year period, the court substituted 85 fines with community detention, 1352 with community work, 24 with home detention and 114 with imprisonment.
Tauranga Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Ken Evans said paying fines was a part of respecting the court. "If a fine isn't paid, the court system isn't being respected," he said "Who decides these offenders don't have the money to pay? If they can't pay, their assets should be looked at and sold if necessary."
Mr Evans believed community service was more suitable than imprisonment.
"Sending someone to prison is costly. Offenders are meant to pay fines to support the system, not the other way round.
"Community service is a soft approach but if offenders absolutely have no money, they should at least be doing something that's positive for the community."
Ministry of Justice general manager of collections Jacquelyn Shannon said the ministry was committed to ensuring fines and reparation remained a credible sanction in New Zealand. Legislation passed in 2010 gave the ministry enhanced collection powers, she said. "Changes include judges having the ability to re-sentence a person to prison or home detention if reparation they have been ordered to pay is unenforceable or unaffordable, provided these sentences were available at the time of the original sentencing.
Meanwhile, the proportion of overdue fines has reduced from 48.2 per cent in July 2011, to 42.1 per cent as at 31 August 2014.
Enforcement of overdue amounts could include clamping vehicles, seizing and selling property, making compulsory deductions from a person's income or bank account, issuing warrants to arrest, suspending drivers' licences and preventing a person's international travel, she said. However, in some circumstances, the remittal of the fine was considered the most appropriate action, she said.
Nationally, the number of fines wiped rose from 78,443 in 2012 to 87,175 in 2013 and then dropped to 65,033 in 2014.
The value of fines wiped trended downwards, however. In 2012, $33,418,612 in fines were remitted, in 2013, $54,048,015 were remitted and last year, $40,847,021 were remitted.
Community work was the most common alternative sentence implemented - more than 14,000 fines were turned into community work in the past three years.
Meanwhile, more than 600 fines were transferred to community detention, more than 150 became home detention and more than 700 unpaid fines resulted in imprisonment.
Registrars and deputy registrars could also remit court costs and enforcement fees to encourage original fines to be paid, Ms Shannon said.