Far North District Council is trying a new way to collect rates on Maori land.
Mayor Wayne Brown says $14 million is owed on Maori freehold land, up from $11 million last year.
He says rather than waste effort trying to collect on unimproved land with multiple owners, it's levying rates only on the bits that are lived on.
He told Waatea News that "desperation is the mother of invention".
Mr Brown said a third of land in the district is owned by Maori and another third by the Department of Conservation, which does not pay rates either.