Town finds it's flush for toilets

By Peter de Graaf

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Kerikeri is going potty.

The Bay of Islands town has been taken over by toilets, with dozens of pansy-filled bowls appearing on footpaths and traffic islands. During the weekend they were joined by three rustic-looking dunnies, one of which surprises passers-by with loud flushing noises.

The porcelain invasion is not an attempt to steal Kawakawa's thunder as the toilet tourism capital of the North; not is it an outbreak of toilet-themed street art.

It is in fact part of a council campaign called, ahem, "Let's Talk Crap", to drum up interest in sewerage.

The Far North District Council is consulting on what could be its biggest project to date, a $30 million expansion and upgrade of Kerikeri's wastewater system, but wants to be sure it has residents' support before forging ahead.

In the next stage of the campaign, booklets will be delivered to all Kerikeri households and free toilet rolls handed out at supermarkets. The toilet- roll wrapper doubles as a submission form and an explanation of future sewerage options.

A dunny in the centre of town has been attracting particular attention by regaling passers-by with potty talk, thanks to a motion detector and a pre-recorded spiel. It also dispenses brochures and urges people to visit the website www.letstalkcrap.co.nz

Among the first to be surprised by it was Manuela Gmuer, as she was taking her daughter to netball on Saturday.

"It's very creative for the council," Mrs Gmuer said.

Her home in Opua was hooked up to a sewerage plant just six months ago after previously relying on a septic tank, she said.

The clay soils at Opua meant septic tanks did not work well, with the overflow running straight down the hill into the Bay of Islands.

"It's made a huge difference already."

The council says similar problems exist in many parts of Kerikeri, which has far outgrown its infrastructure over the past 25 years. Whole neighbourhoods, even in the centre of town, still rely on septic tanks.

In total, 24 toilet bowls have been bolted to footpaths and traffic islands around Kerikeri and as far away as the Kapiro garage. The dunnies are next to High Voltage surf shop in town, at the SH10/Kerikeri Rd roundabout, and the Waipapa Rd/Bypass roundabout. More toilet-themed humour will make an appearance in town this week.

Residents who want to have a say can send in a submission form, or vote online or by text for their choice of three options by July 31. See www.letstalkcrap.co.nz or visit a dunny for more information.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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