The Government has been asked to urgently appoint a statutory manager or commissioner to run the Far North District Council and a petition to support the call will begin next week.

Council watchdog Des Mahoney has written to Local Government Minister Anne Tolley asking her to implement her powers under the Local Government Act (LGA) to take control of the council.

Mr Mahoney, who will begin a petition next week seeking thousands of signatures to support the letter, said the council was so dysfunctional and fragmented it could not carry out its statutory functions.

He said the council was endangering, or was likely to endanger, the health and safety of residents.


But deputy mayor Tania McInnes was confident about the council's direction. She said councillors and staff were working diligently to address historic gaps in infrastructure and improve customer services.

Ms Tolley said she had received the letter and response would be prepared with input from officials.

"It is important to remember that councils are independent and accountable first and foremost to their communities. It's for this reason there is a high threshold for ministerial intervention under the Local Government Act," she said.

Mr Mahoney said the reasons for the petition included the council's "total inability and ongoing failure to maintain and upgrade the district's core infrastructure services, such as water supply, sewage, reticulation and road network".

He said the council operated 15 sewerage schemes - and was planning another at Kerikeri - and eight of them were non-compliant or had abatement notices issued for non-compliance.

He said ratepayers were concerned the Kerikeri scheme - which had failed to add capacity to the current sewerage reticulation area - would be "another Mangawhai disaster", where costs soared from $35.6 million to an estimated $57.7m and left the Kaipara District Council with a huge debt, leading to commissioners being appointed.

Mr Mahoney said FNDC had failed to provide clean, quality water to many parts of the district and failed to maintain its roading infrastructure.

He also pointed to its procurement policy after a recent court ruling found the council had wrongly excluded businessman Ken Rintoul from a tender process.

Ms McInnes said no one denied there was more work to do, but it was important to acknowledge what was being achieved.

"We have eight facilities supplying drinking water. All comply with the New Zealand Drinking Water Standard. We are currently upgrading supplies to Rawene, and are looking at options to improve those in Te Kao [at present a private supply], Kaitaia and Opononi-Omapere," she said.

"We are building a new and desperately needed sewerage network for Kerikeri that will connect 1000 homes and businesses by 2018. This year we will also upgrade the Paihia and Russell wastewater systems, and continue improvements to the Kaitaia system."

The council also planned to invest $8m this year on its network of sealed and unsealed roads.

"We are continually improving the way we interact with residents, which includes regular customer surveys."

She said FNDC has received record numbers of consent applications.

"I believe these achievements indicate a council that is committed to successfully serving its district. We are open to hearing minister Tolley's assessment of that record."