“If the council had just accepted the money, admitted that the people withholding their rates were wronged, that their case had merit, we could have all moved forward together” – Mangawhai ratepayer Bruce Rogan
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### radionz.co.nz 6:01 pm on 16 Sep 2016
New Zealand: Northland
Northland rates rebels win partial victory
By Lois Williams – Northland reporter
The rebel ratepayers of Mangawhai in Northland have won a partial victory in the High Court. The court has found that rates levied from 2011 to 2014 by the Northland Regional Council, via Kaipara District Council rate demands, were unlawful. In an interim decision, Justice Duffy found the Northland Regional Council (NRC) has no power to delegate the assessment of rates or the recovery of arrears to other councils. “The errors I have identified are serious and substantial,” the judge said. “In short, the NRC has failed to exercise its statutory powers properly when determining rates resolutions and it has unlawfully sought to delegate the performance of a number of its functions in relation to rates to the Kaipara District Council.” […] The Mangawhai ratepayers’ chair, Bruce Rogan, said the ruling was very welcome, although the court did not uphold the group’s challenge to penalties and GST imposed by the Kaipara District Council. The council should now agree to negotiate a deal to end the six-year-old Kaipara rates row, Mr Rogan said.
From Kaipara Concerns (community website):
INTERIM HIGH COURT JUDGMENT RELEASED 16.09.2016
Duffy J has made an interim judgment in respect of the judicial review brought by the MRRA and Bruce and Heather Rogan challenging the lawfulness of rates set by the NRC and the KDC.
She has made the following decisions:
1. The NRC rates were not set lawfully for the 2011/2012, 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 rating years. 
2. The NRC’s delegation to the KDC of the assessment of rates and recovery of rates for the rating years between 2011/2012 and 2015/2016 inclusive was unlawful. Accordingly those rates were not lawfully assessed. 
3. The NRC’s delegation to the KDC to add penalties to NRC rates was unlawful. Therefore the penalties imposed on rates in respect of NRC rates was unlawful. 
4. The Validation Act only validated the unlawful rates of the KDC. It did not validate the unlawful rates of the NRC. 
 I make the following declaration: The NRC’s rates for the KDC region have not been lawfully set or assessed for the rating years from 2011/2012 to 2015/2016 inclusive.
Duffy J has not yet decided what order to make in respect of ordering the NRC to refund the unlawful rates charged. She has invited the NRC to make further submissions and especially to examine how this ruling might affect the legality of the rates that it has set for its other constituent areas – Whangarei and the Far North. Those rates might also be unlawful.
She will make her final decision once both parties have made further submissions.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has issued a press release in respect of the Duffy J’s High Court decision:
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