A 61-year-old Far North grandmother got so fed up with looking at roadside rubbish decided to pick it up herself, having realised that no one else was going to do it.
Fran Hambrook spent four weekends last year collecting trash from Wiroa and Waimate North roads, near Kerikeri, filling 40 bags in just 4km. Since then more rubbish has appeared, so she's started again. So far she's covered about 2km, and filled another 22 bags.
"And that's not even scratching the surface," she said.
A lot of the waste lobbed out of cars could be dropped off free at transfer stations, such as cans and bottles, but she also picked up more revolting things, including plastic bags stuffed with dead possums, fish frames and nappies, and in a gravel dump at the corner of Waimate North and Wiroa roads a boned-out cow and 20 packs of rotting meat, likely the result of someone's freezer clean-out.
"I drive down the road every day, and seeing all the rubbish depresses me," Ms Hambrook said.
Every time it rained rubbish was washed down Waimate North Rd, piling up next to culverts before it was flushed into the river and then into the sea.
"Last year it was so bad I went to the council, assuming they would clean it up, but I was told it wasn't a council responsibility. I thought if nobody's going to clean it up, it will have to be me," she added.
Last year, and again last month, the Far North District Council supplied her with bags so she didn't have to pay dumping fees. When she went back earlier this month, however, she was told the council no longer gave out bags for fear it would be liable under health and safety legislation if a volunteer rubbish collector was hit by a car.
Meanwhile the problem had worsened over the last two or three years.
"It's so bad I think it needs to become a council responsibility," she said.
"Maybe we need to pay a little more in rates and the council could create a job for someone to go around picking it up. We can't just rely on little old ladies to do it."
She also urged Northlanders to take care of their own road frontage — "That would make a huge difference" — and called for a reduction in the amount of "senseless packaging" in shops and supermarkets.
■A spokesman for the Far North District Council said a temporary stop had been put to supplying rubbish bags to people wanting to clear roadside litter, until a single, easy-to-follow procedure could be developed to better assist those organising community clean-up events.
The procedure would provide clear direction on funding options, the council supply of rubbish bags and other equipment, and the disposal of collected rubbish. It would also clearly define who was responsible for health and safety.