Veteran Auckland protester Penny Bright's home will be sold from under her to recover unpaid rates and penalties.

The High Court confirmed to Auckland Council the property will be sold by tender on April 24.

The sale of the property was a last resort, Auckland Council spokesman Matthew Walker said. Bright stopped paying her rates in 2007.

Penny Bright's unpaid rates result in Auckland Council move to sell her property
'They're going to have to pull me out kicking, screaming'


"We have written to Ms Bright on a number of occasions and met with her in January in order to discuss payment options. Despite this, Ms Bright has continued to refuse to pay her outstanding rates bill, or arrange a payment plan.

"While it's unfortunate that we have reached this next step, the council needs to remain fair to the thousands of Aucklanders who do pay their rates or have a payment plan in place."

In January 2016 the council obtained judgment in the Auckland District Court against Bright that she owed $34,183 in unpaid rates and penalties up to June 2015.

Bright unsuccessfully appealed the decision and after a six-month stand down period the council asked the High Court to commence the sale process in December last year.

Walker said that in most other cases of unpaid rates and penalties, the council had been able to work with the property owner and avoid court action.

"We would urge all property owners who are struggling to pay their rates to contact us so that we can talk through options that won't cause financial hardship."

If an arrangement is not reached with Bright between now and the end of the tender process, the proceeds of the sale will be used to recover the full amount of outstanding rates and penalties and any further costs, including real estate agency and legal fees.

The remainder of the proceeds from the sale will then be released to Bright through the Public Trust.

Bright, an activist and self-proclaimed "anti-corruption whistleblower", did not accept the decision. She would "fight like hell" to avoid the sale of her home which she currently lives in with her partner.

Bright said she put her freehold property on the line 10 years ago in her fight to get the council to become transparent and follow the legislation of Section 17 of the Public Record Act - specifically for private contracts.

The act detailed the requirement to create and maintain records.

Bright wanted council contracts to show a unique contract number, the name of the contract, the scope of the contract, the contract finish date, the exact value of each and every contract and how the contract was tendered.

Without transparency there was space for corruption, that was where "billions of dollars" was going, she said.

Bright said if Auckland Council chose to comply with the Public Record Act she would immediately make arrangements to pay the outstanding rates.

"My house is on the line and it's just outrageous.

"I've done more than any citizen or any person on council to make sure the books are open.

"The idea they have no alternative but to sell my house… It's just so wrong."

Since Bright paid off her house in 2000, she said she worked full time "in the public interest" without pay.

Bright warned she would make a "huge public fuss" regarding the upcoming sale.

"I'm not going anywhere."

The Auckland Council's first forced sale over unpaid rates was of a home in 2015.

Charlotte Hareta Marsh lost her Manurewa home in a court-ordered sale after failing to pay rates since August 2006. She refused to recognise the authority of Auckland Council and claimed to have paid her rates instead to the "rightful land owner" - Arikinui o Tuhoe.
The council's chief financial officer Sue Tindal told the Herald in 2015 Marsh owed more than $12,000 in unpaid rates and penalties and nearly $3000 in court costs.

Rates row timeline

• ​Bright stopped paying rates in 2007.
• ​Auckland Council first issued proceedings against Bright in 2011 seeking to recover payment of unpaid rates from June 2006 to June 2011.
• ​It obtained judgment by default, but that was set aside by the court on technical grounds.
• ​In 2015 the council sought summary judgment for unpaid rates from June 2011 to January 2015.
• ​In January 2016, the District Court entered judgment for Auckland Council against Bright for $34,183 for outstanding rates and penalties. Costs were awarded in the council's favour for $13,249.
• ​In July 2016 the High Court dismissed Bright's appeal and awarded costs in favour of the council for $7080.
• ​In March 2017 the council applied to the High Court to enforce the judgment by sale pursuant to section 67 of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 (LGRA).
• ​In May 2017 the High Court issued a notice pursuant to the LGRA requiring Bright to pay the judgment sum, costs and all remaining rates due on the property.
• ​After a compulsory six-month stand down period, the council in December asked the High Court to proceed with the sale of the property.
• ​Throughout this period the council has continued to invite Bright to make payment or to arrange a payment plan. No payment or arrangements for a payment plan have been received.