As Northlanders unite to tidy up their communities from rubbish, the region's councils are struggling to deal with the costly exercise of cleaning up large illegal dump sites.

In the latest case of a large illegal fly-tip being discovered Kaipara ratepayers have to stump up $30,000 for the removal of an estimated 60 tonnes of household rubbish illegally dumped in a tomo over the years.

The clean-up cost has shaved off more than half the $50,000 the Kaipara District Council has budgeted for this year to clear illegally dumped rubbish around the district.

The filled-up tomo on Spur Rd, south of Te Kopuru, is down a gully off a KDC-maintained road.

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The tip comes as several Northland communities hold clean-up days to pick up litter and other rubbish dumped in their areas.

KDC spokesman Benjamin Hope said since the tomo was discovered an investigation revealed it was a historic site that once served as a church and a cook house for the local Dalmatian community.

Due to the amount of rubbish and associated health and safety risks, it is expected to take two weeks to clear.

So far, nine people have been identified through evidence recovered from searching the dump and they are likely to receive infringement notices. The maximum penalty under the Public Litter Act is $5000.

Clearing of illegally dumped rubbish in a tomo is under way south of Te Kopuru. Photo / Supplied
Clearing of illegally dumped rubbish in a tomo is under way south of Te Kopuru. Photo / Supplied

Hope said most of the nine people identified were Kaipara locals and that investigations would continue throughout the removal.

KDC believes rubbish that consists of bikes, old fridges, food waste and just about anything has been thrown down the tomo for at least two years.

"The tomo is off not too busy a main road and it wasn't until the tomo reached its full capacity that the rubbish was discovered. The place is also overgrown with grass so it became difficult to see the dump."

Hope said council contractors finished clearing most of the rubbish on Friday last week and took it to a landfill in Whangārei.

"The digger scraped everything from rubbish, dirt, soil and I'd say the ratio is 40 tonnes rubbish and 20 tonnes dirt and soil. Our yearly budget to clear illegally dumped rubbish is $50,000 and to spend $30,000 in one go is not great."

Hope said $10,000 of the $30,000 was paid in charges to the Whangārei landfill at Puwera.

KDC acting chief executive Curt Martin said it was disappointing to see this sort of behaviour from residents, effectively turning their backyard into a dump.

He said if anyone saw illegal dumping in public land such as parks, reserves or even spaces off the road, they should note vehicle details and inform KDC immediately.

It was an offence to dump anything on public land because there were commercial facilities for contractors or residents to take rubbish and waste, he said.

"Council spends time and resources on a range of illegal dumping, but this tomo and the consistent and shared acceptance of using it as a dumping site, is especially bad."

Fly-tipping has been a constant problem for territorial authorities across Northland.

Late last year, two illegal dumping sites were discovered on Kaiikanui Rd and Puhipuhi Rd in Whangārei.

Clean-up at a Puhipuhi Rd site is estimated to cost about $20,000 with work expected to start in October.

Whangārei District Council waste and drainage field officer Grant Alsop said WDC attended to about 80 jobs a month and most were random fly-tippings.

The Far North District Council has also had to clean up several massive illegal rubbish dumps in recent years.

Last October nearby resident Bruce Gordon was shocked to discover a huge illegal dump off Ruapekapeka Rd in the Far North.

And in March, 2016, tonnes of rubbish was found dumped in bush in the Ngaiotonga Scenic Reserve.

It's estimated that cleaning up these big dumps has cost Northland's district councils more than $200,000 in the past few years.