Mayor backs dump open days

By Matthew Martin, Kim Fulton

6 comments
Kiri Danielle with rubbish at Mt Ngongotaha, one of the problem areas for dumping.
Kiri Danielle with rubbish at Mt Ngongotaha, one of the problem areas for dumping.

Rotorua's mayor is keen to see the district's landfill opened up for limited free open days to help stop illegal rubbish dumping in the district.

Rubbish has been dumped illegally in the district hundreds of times in the past year and a half - while those responsible have been caught in just three cases.

Rotorua Lakes Council strategy and partnerships group manager Jean-Paul Gaston said the council had received 269 notifications of about 265 illegal rubbish dumping events between the beginning of last year and May this year.

In three instances, the offenders were caught and sent a bill for the clean-up of the rubbish and issued with an infringement notice under the Litter Act.

Some of the areas where litter was most commonly illegally dumped included Paradise Valley Rd and Pukehangi Rd, each with 15 instances of dumping.

Mayor Steve Chadwick said she brought the issue up at a recent council committee meeting suggesting one option to help reduce illegal dumping was to open up the Rotorua landfill for limited free rubbish disposal, as she was aware dumping rubbish there was expensive for some people.

"Fly-tipping is a lazy thing to do, it's the lazy option and I wish we could find more evidence for prosecutions. I did suggest opening up the landfill for an open day, and you never know what we could flush out, and I'd like to see open days as another option as part of our comprehensive new waste strategy."

Rotorua's Kiri Danielle, who starred in a Maori Television series which held those illegally dumping rubbish to account, said people didn't realise how much damage one small act could do.

She said a decision to throw rubbish over a bridge or into a lake could cost somebody a lot of money, or the rubbish could remain there for hundreds of years, if nothing was done about it.

"You know they talk about a footprint - this is more like a punch."

Ms Danielle said rubbish was poisoning the land and getting into the water, as well having a visual impact and ruining people's enjoyment of a place.

"We absolutely need a change of culture, not only in Rotorua but in the country, because this generation is used to seeing it like that," she said.

Councils could help by making it easier for people to dispose of rubbish, she said.

"We need people to clean up the mess that's been made and then we need that shift in culture to keep it clean."

Ms Danielle said her next task was to create a Facebook video about her cause.

"Social media is a very powerful tool if it's used wisely," she said.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful chief executive Heather Saunderson said littering and illegal dumping were a large problem in New Zealand. Such illegal dumping had long-lasting effects on the community, health, environment, tourism, business, crime levels and the economy.

Ms Saunderson said more than 190,000 tonnes of litter and rubbish were collected from the streets of New Zealand by about 86,000 volunteers last year alone.

That was enough to fill 120 rugby fields to half-a-metre high with rubbish.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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