The grass has grown over Waihī's finalist title in the 2018 Most Beautiful Small Town Award as disgruntled residents battle with the council over who should mow its berms.

Debate has fired up on social media with posts claiming the town is looking "shabby" and "hillbillyish".

Hauraki District Council Community Services and Development group manager Steve Fabish says it decided to stop mowing berms that were 20 metres or less on July 1 because it would save Waihi Ward ratepayers about $50,000 a year.

The community was consulted on the issue and due to feedback, it decided to cut back on a lot of the mowing services.


"We didn't think it was fair that all ratepayers in the Waihī ward, including those in Whiritoa and Waikino, were paying for standard berms to be mowed in Waihi, and that some Waihī residents were getting their berms mowed while others weren't."

The council did not think it would have an effect on the town's appearance.

"We don't believe Waihī streets will become overgrown as a result. When we reduced berm mowing in Paeroa a few years ago the streets stayed ship-shape."

However the council acknowledged it might not be possible for everyone to mow their berm.

"We understand that some people may not be physically able to mow their own berm. Help is available from WINZ for those on a low income who can't physically mow their berm."

Malcolm Mathers says he had noticed some lawns "getting longer and longer".
He took to Facebook and told the Waihi Leader the town is looking "shabby, rundown and a bit hillbillyish".

"The more you look the worse it gets."

He was also worried about the elderly residents who were not capable and could not afford to pay for lawn mowing.


"My aunty says she is not paying to mow the roadside as that is the council's job."

Bernie, who only wanted his first name used, says as far as he was concerned the berms belong to the council.

"So it's their responsibility. It's council property and there would be hell to pay if I decided to build something on it."

However Georgina Mycroft thought people could plant fruit trees and have edible streets.

Meanwhile Errol Clark had offered to mow any roadside lawns the council didn't "for cheap rates" but had no takers.

"I think people are just going to leave their lawns to get long. And others are saying the council should pay me to do it."

A Ministry for Social Development spokeswoman says the disability allowance can help towards the extra cost someone may have due to a disability or medical condition.

It can help pay for a range of things like regular visits to the doctor, medicines or a medical alarm — but also for gardening, lawn-mowing, and outside window cleaning for a person's own home or private residence.

But the allowance can only be paid if the person is unable to do these tasks themselves because of their disability and it requires a referral from their GP.

Cost of mowing
Expenditure for parks and reserves in Waihī township
2015/16 — $156,038
2016/17 — $155,281
2017/18 — $160,256

Council mows:

■ Main arterial routes

■ Parry Palm Ave, Seddon St, Kenny St, Tauranga Rd

Berms on residential streets wider than 20 metres

■ Barry Rd, Mataura Rd, Queen St, Victoria St, Roberts St, Galbraith St, Wrigley St, Canon St, Margaret St

■ Berms in front of the council parks and reserves.

- Source Hauraki District Council