Waitangi Regional Park is one of Hawke's Bay's most significant foreshores, but for some people it's become a place to dump rubbish.
About 100 people helped rectify that over the weekend, taking part in a voluntary clean-up.
Taradale High School was one of many community groups contributing. Principal Stephen Hensman said plastic was a particularly insidious form of waste.
"There are a lot of native birds that nest along here and live along here," he said.
"What collects here in the foreshore tends to go back out to sea. The fish eventually eat the particles, birds eventually eat the fish and we eventually eat the fish. We are consuming plastics."
The foreshore clean-up, which removed trailer loads of rubbish, was organised by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council with the help of the Environment Centre, which handled recyclable waste.
It was one of 28 Seaweek events in Hawke's Bay.
Hawke's Bay Seaweek Co-ordinator Jake Brookie said Seaweek, organised by the New Zealand Association of Environmental Education, was an educational programme because "it is really hard to care for something that you don't understand".
"Here at the Waitangi Regional Park, the estuary here helps purify the water running in from the rivers like the Tutaekuri River and Ngaruroro River," he said.
"It purifies this water which minimises damaging algal blooms out at sea, which could wreak havoc on the marine ecosystem."
He said New Zealanders were intrinsically connected to the sea.
"No part of New Zealand is more than 130km away from the sea. We have 17,000km of coastline. The ocean also gives so much back to us."