Confidential documents and other sensitive financial papers from the Buller District Council have been found dumped at a tip and the mayor admits it is a drastic mistake.
Westport woman Jenny Thomas came across the pile of paperwork while looking for glass bottles at the tip at Karamea last Thursday.
Ms Thomas says the material included personal information on ratepayers and staff, creditor invoices, debtor records and general financial information.
Ms Thomas says the council has a duty of care to destroy that and needs to find a better way of disposing its documents.
Buller District Council mayor Pat McManus says a council contractor was supposed to bury the documents but dumped them without waiting for a digger.
Mr McManus says the skip of material was at least seven years old, but admits some of it may have been confidential.
He says a council department that was cleaning out the old papers tried to save ratepayers money by having them buried them rather than spending $5000 on shredding the documents.
Mr McManus blames the mistake on a communication breakdown and says it is a one-off.
He says the council's contractor, Westreef, is investigating how the mistake happened.
Westport uses the nearby Karamea tip as it no longer has a landfill.