If there's one thing that Lake Ohia man Ian Burke does not appreciate when he looks across the road from his home it's the sight of an abandoned car.

And if there's one thing that frustrates him more than the attitude that some people display when it comes to getting rid of whatever it is that they no longer want, it's the roundabout he embarked upon when he tried to interest the police and the Far North District Council in doing something about it.

"This heap of rubbish was dumped on a layby opposite my driveway last Friday, partially blocking access to it," Burke said.

"I called the police, who said it was of no interest to them, despite having no current wof or rego, and in my eyes should not have even been on the road.


"So I called the FNDC after-hours number. After explaining the situation, and assuring the council spokesperson that Inland Rd is not a state highway and Lake Ohia is not in Kaitaia, but 25km away, she suggested it was a matter for the police. And so the conversation went on, around and around, going nowhere.

"After I expressed my main concern, that some hoon with little brain matter could quite feasibly torch the car, she said then it would become a police matter. After suggesting that in that eventuality, half of the tinder-dry conservation area would create a horrendous fire that could put my property and others under threat, she said someone would contact me."

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They hadn't, so Burke dragged the car clear of his drive and into a less "intrusive" position, something he was becoming quite practised at.

"This is the third I've been through this process with abandoned vehicles, and had the same response," he said.

"Does this mean anyone can dump their defunct cars on the side of the road and absolve themselves of responsibility for removal? Do the police and/or the council not have the power to remove such cars and fine and seek retribution from the perpetrators? It would be helpful if there was some clear policy so people like me don't have to spend time chasing rainbows."

Senior Sergeant Russell Richards said the police would not tow an abandoned vehicle unless it had been stolen, was involved in a criminal matter or was causing a real risk to life.

"The district council needs to be informed, but that said, they have to wait for a period of time before they can tow it," he said.


The police were well aware that abandoned cars were often set alight, and had had discussions with the local Fire Service about that.

The Kaitaia Fire Brigade has expressed concern in the past regarding the fact that "dead" cars often remain where they are dumped for long periods of time, inevitably attracting arsonists.

The Far North District Council has said that cars abandoned on state highways are the NZTA's responsibility, while those on local roads are the council's.