Two Onerahi neighbours have a bad case of hay fever but it's not caused by allergens getting up their noses as much as the Whangarei District Council.

Hilary Edmunds and Bruce Sowry live in townhouses on Whangarei Heads Rd, on a sweeping bend with a sizeable road reserve between their properties and the road.

Since 2012 Ms Edmunds has been at loggerheads with the council which refuses to mow the area, a job the neighbours used to manage but is now beyond their physical and financial capabilities.

It's a year since Mr Sowry and Mrs Edmunds stopped mowing the area twice the size of both their sections and which now sports knee-high grass. They still mow the narrower grass strip between their properties and the public footpath which intersects the 900sq m road reserve.


The council describes the swathe as a berm and said the responsibility for mowing any berm lies with the adjacent property owners, with no exceptions.

Chief executive Rob Forlong said that had been the situation for 15 years, and the council only mowed berms in front of parks and other council-owned properties.

"Sharing the task this way keeps the district looking tidy and helps to keep rates down," Mr Forlong said.

"We have considerable sympathy for Mrs Edmunds and her neighbour, and [the] council's lawn-mowing contractor has offered to mow the berm outside their properties in a private capacity at very reasonable rates."

According to the Ombudsman, neither party is strictly responsible for mowing berms, said Whangarei man Colin Edwards who is acting in an advocacy role for the neighbours.

He said when the land was subdivided in 1999 the council compulsorily acquired and set aside the contentious area for road reserve as a safety measure for traffic rounding the wide curve.

"The meanest thing is that there were 22 sections in that subdivision but only those two have been lumbered with the job of mowing a huge area the council itself acquired specifically for road safety reasons.

"Council denies they mow other similar areas, but this is not true. They mow at least two others at Pah Rd, Onerahi, and Mt Pleasant Rd, Otaika."

Mr Edwards said it is frustrating to see council contractors taking ride-on mowers past the Whangarei Heads Rd corner to cut a large area of grass on the foreshore on the opposite side of the road.