Frustrated kiwifruit growers criticize Gisborne council over massive rate rises

Last Thursday, disgruntled kiwifruit growers left Gisborne District Council in no doubt about their frustration and disbelief over proposed rates increases of around 200 percent for some of them. Gisborne is the first region to adjust property valuation methods to include the value of the Zespri growing licence — $400,000 a hectare now for the popular SunGold variety — on the rateable value of the property, following a decision by the Valuer-General.

About 25 people attended the Makauri Long-Term Plan community meeting on Thursday night, along with Mayor Rehette Stoltz, councilors Sandra Faulkner, Debbie Gregory and Kerry Worsnop, and council managers. Mayor Stoltz said the council did not have the option of not including the kiwifruit licence in the rating system, but NZ Fruits director Bill Thorpe disagreed. He said the policy arose from a discussion among valuers and the Valuer-General was “ambivalent”.

Various growers said a licence to grow kiwifruit, an intellectual property, was not relevant to rating purposes, as a license was not attached to their property. Some said it was unfair that a property next to a kiwifruit grower used the same council services, but was rated at a lower level; the rates for city residents were only going up by an average 2.2 percent.

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