Kaitaia farmer Bill Steed has described the process followed by the Far North District Council in offering to seal 1km of Bell Rd, off Wireless Rd, just north of Kaitaia, as "crazy."

His daughter, Rachel Thompson, preferred the term nightmare.

The first Bill and Rosaleen Steed, their daughter and son-in-law Rachel and Rob Thompson, who live next door to each other, knew of the proposal to seal the road that runs past their front gates came in the form of an undated letter from the council saying it had been approached by "a number of ratepayers in the vicinity of Bell Rd" asking that the first 1km be sealed. The council was prepared to do that, providing that the 10 households that would benefit agreed to pay two-thirds of the cost.

If a minimum of 75 per cent of those households agreed, each would pay a targeted rate over five years, which would lift the Steed/Thompson rates by 87 per cent. Or they could pay a one-off lump sum of $48,000.


"There was no meeting, no consultation, just a letter," Mrs Thompson said, although Mr Steed said he had been told that sealing would cost $600,000. When he suggested the council should look for a new contractor the figure was reduced to $300,000.

Mr Thompson said he had been told by a councillor that any sealing would be "miles down the track" and that there would be "meetings," although the council letter demanded a decision by July 31.

"To let it get to this stage without any sort of consultation is cray," Mr Steed said.

"We won't be signing anything, we won't be shifting, and we won't be paying."

Mrs Thompson said she doubted that 75 per cent of property owners would agree to pay, but in the meantime she and her family were under extreme stress.

"We can't afford this," she said.

"If the road is sealed we will have to move. We won't be able to stay here. Wouldn't you think the council would at least talk to us before it put us through this?"

She was aware of other roads that had been sealed with property owner contributions, but the sums involved had been very much smaller.


Mayor John Carter said no one could force anyone to pay their share of sealing a road in one lump sum, but if 75 per cent of those on Bell Rd agreed the council could quite lawfully strike a targeted rate, which all would have to pay.

He wasn't familiar with the specifics of Bell Rd, but said he would be looking into it.