Rate arrears in Northland have hit an all-time high as the effects of recession continue to bite in the region, local authorities say.
The Far North has $22 million in unpaid rates owing from the last 10 years, but a fifth of that debt was accrued in the past financial year.
In the Kaipara District, the number of rates defaulters has doubled. Mayor Neil Tiller says defaulters come from every sector, including dairy farmers, lifestylers, town-dwellers and developers.
Northland councils say they are prepared to help people who have lost their jobs or income, by writing off rate arrears and arranging payment plans.