The Playford family of Mangaweka feel disheartened over a whopping 44 per cent hike in their rates. This means they owe the Rangitikei District Council more than $1300 this year.
But Sharon and Darren Playford, who have six children (of which four still live with them), say it is miserable getting billed that amount, especially as they don't get anything for it.
"We used to pay $700. Now we have to pay $600 more but we still have no amenities. No sewerage, no rubbish collection, no street lighting, no footpath and we don't use much water," they said.
"What really upsets me that we have to pay as much as that ... but what for? ... I mean look ... there's nothing here," Mr Playford said.
They love their rural retreat because they are on the road for about eight months of the year with the Gypsy Fairs throughout New Zealand selling clothing and jewellery.
In Mangaweka, they have their rural section in a place which is like a small ghost town.
They have a small one-room bach they use for storage and the family live in a large house bus alongside which are all their toilet facilities and their own sewerage system. And they're not there most of the year.
They have lived and returned to Mangaweka for more than 17 years.
"We lived in a couple of houses but now we've got the bus and our lifestyle. We really love it here, which is why we keep coming back."
Mrs Playford said she found it hurtful to be treated like morons at the council offices in Marton and Taihape.
"We weren't even given a chance to explain. We were looked at as though we had no right to complain."
Rangitikei District Council strategic finance manager Angela Hobden said the family's rate increase to more than $1300 was because water charges are included in this amount.
"To compare it with last year, we would need to add their water rates to last year's rates bill."
This means their real increase is about 44 per cent.
Ms Hobden said several things had impacted on rates this year, such as the council moving towards a district-wide rating scheme.
"For small towns like Mangaweka to charge their residents for improvements to water services to comply with Government standards is unaffordable. The only way these charges can be met is to base them district-wide and spread the cost."
In the case of Mangaweka (and Bulls), the increase to bring them up to the level of everyone in the district paying the same amount for the same service was deemed too high. Consequently, other ratepayers in the district are subsidising their costs for the next three years, Ms Hobden said.
Council also moved a lot of the small, localised community services rates to the uniform annual general charge and changed the way they rate for the spillage portion of water, wastewater and stormwater.
"As these are a uniform charge, every property pays the same amount. Previously this charge had been based on capital value for ratepayers and council thought this was unfair."
That means more charges are uniform in nature but it impacts more on people with lower valued properties, she said.
"All these changes went out for public consultation before they happened so that ratepayers who were facing large increases could make submissions to council about this."