A piano key base, marine pollutant, and road cones were among more than one tonne of trash collected by volunteers along a river bank in Whangārei.
For Our Real Clean Environment (FORCE), a charitable trust, set up its base under the trees and behind advertising boards at the corner of Porowini Ave and Maunu Rd on Saturday and volunteers started coming in to help.
Soon it had a large team spread out in the stream, behind the laundromat, along the streets, and the nearby Carruth Park.
FORCE co-ordinator Nicholas Connop was among the 29 volunteers who got their hands dirty while collecting about 1100kg of trash, recycling materials and salvaged items below the bridge off Porowini Ave and around Maunu Rd.
"After the recent floods, we noticed this area had a lot of rubbish washed up on the side of the bank. We had no idea we were going to find as much as we did," he said.
He got down in freshwater fishing gear and wandered the stream which had a lot of silt build up from the floods.
When the flood demolished the Otaika Bridge scaffolding, he said it washed it downstream.
One section was found at the Town Basin about two months ago and more were discovered during Saturday's rubbish collection.
A piano key base, eight tyres, a 20-litre white barrel of a hazardous marine pollutant on the stream bank, a plastic duck, hot plate, suitcase of mouldy clothes and damaged items, six road cones, at least seven inflated balls, two mops, a closet safe, a 20kg section of copper wire, Northland Scaffolding sections, chicken wire door frame, and even a fire extinguisher were among items found.
"The area didn't look bad initially and at first I thought we may get a truckload but ended up with two truck loads of rubbish in two hours," Connop said.
He said volunteers have been getting out once a month to pick up rubbish in hard-to-access, forgotten, and hidden places around Whangārei since FORCE started two years ago.
To date, they have collected more than 17 tonnes of rubbish.
Connop said the discovery of the hazardous marine pollutant on the side of a stream bank was most disturbing.
"I was pleased the barrel wasn't damaged and hadn't gone into the stream or the harbour otherwise it could have been tragic. There are eels, snails, fish and other river creatures which could have died had the pollutant leaked into the water."
The Whangārei District Council covered the disposal and providing funding for some of the gear the volunteers used while various business houses pitched in and helped in a number of ways.