"Disgusting," is all Te Ruapeka Ransfield (19) and his mate Brodie Lewis (22) have to say about the people who dumped what looks like a large trailer-load of household rubbish, including car parts, in a corner of the Parikawau Reserve on the Ōhau River, just before the Ōhau bridge on the main road south.
The young men often use the reserve's access to the river to go for a swim but on Sunday morning they were greeted by a huge pile of rubbish, including garden waste and tyres from a large vehicle.
They immediately advised their elders of this, who rang the council about a clean-up action.
"This is so disrespectful of the land and other people," Te Ruapeka said. "Our elders use this spot for picnic and to collect rocks for their gardens. Kids come here to play. I grew up around here and have never seen something so despicable. I'm speechless."
He said just two weeks ago they found rubbish on river bank by the reserve and they made the effort to clean that up, but this is beyond them.
"This is too big. There is no way we can clean this up ourselves."
They're almost too scared now to explore the river banks, especially below the bridge.
"Who knows what we might find there."
They fear people who use the reserve regularly may want to avoid the place now.
"It makes us locals look disgusting." They say they know people do skids there too in their cars. Their message for people who have loads of rubbish: Take it to the tip. Don't dump it just anywhere. Clean up after yourselves."
Yvonne Wehipeihana-Wilson, a local elder, is proud of the two young men and the fact that they reported the mess straight away.
"The river is part of who we are as a people and as kaitiaki of the land and the river we want to condemn this act in the strongest possible terms."
She said another tribal elder had gone through the rubbish carefully and had possibly come across some evidence of where this rubbish may have come from.
There is garden waste, several large car or truck tyres, an oil container, large bits from vehicles such as bumpers, seat covers, as well as rubbish bags with household rubbish and lots of loose stuff that will get blown all over the reserve in the next storm.
Horowhenua District Council was informed of the dumped rubbish late on Monday morning and arranged for contractors to clean it up as soon as possible. The rubbish has since been removed.
Reports of dumped rubbish go to a Council's contractor, who looks at the material to identify the source if possible. If the dumped rubbish contains this information, Council officers contact the person who dumped the rubbish. In this case, the rubbish has been checked and potentially identifying information has been found. Council will investigate issuing an infringement.
Illegal dumping of rubbish or littering in public places, on roadsides and in parks and reserves, is an offence under the Litter Act 1979. Anyone doing this can be fined $400 on the spot, or if prosecuted up to $5000.