Auckland mayor Phil Goff says he's on the warpath about illegal roadside rubbish dumping and wants a strict-liability rule for the owners of vehicles involved.
He also wants Auckland Council staff to increase the low number of prosecutions and for the public to dob in dumpers.
Goff has asked officials to explore changes to make owners of vehicles involved with dumping rubbish strictly liable, as is the case with speed camera fines when the owner is unable to identify who was driving at the time.
He was not sure what would be involved in such a change.
Other moves already in the pipeline included increasing the number of CCTV cameras from the seven currently deployed at various hotspots.
An 0800 hotline to report dumping was also being set up.
Goff is also asking the new government whether an obligation could be put on sellers of certain products - such as tyres - to take the item back at the end of the product's life.
"This is not a new problem but is one that has frankly been pissing me off for a very long time," he told the Herald.
"Over Christmas there has been a surge in roadside dumping. We get it in the countryside, urban fringe areas, around parks and in industrial areas."
Goff posted photos he took to Facebook that show barrels leaking oil on the roadside near his rural Ardmore home.
It's been happening for as long as he can remember, but this was the worst he'd seen.
"It was an industrial tip, not backyard rubbish," he said.
"I had a closer look and saw there were serial numbers on the barrels."
Council officers and police are investigating and Goff thinks there is a good chance of tracing the culprits. A nearby CCTV camera had provided a lead that was being followed, he said.
Goff wants the offenders made an example of and said that because of the nature of the dumping at Ardmore charges could be brought under the Resource Management Act which carries maximum penalties of a fine of $300,000 and two years' jail.
Goff said there is reason to suspect the same people may be responsible for dumping 28 barrels - some containing used oil - on Piha Rd on January 2.
"You have got to have the sanction and you have got to have a realistic ability to prosecute and make an example of some of the people. That's why I'm asking on my Facebook page for people to tell us if you have information. Tell us if you see rubbish dumped … if you get a photo of the car and registration number, great, that's the evidential information we need to prosecute."
Goff acknowledged that prosecutions for roadside rubbish dumping are few and far between.
In the past year, only two were brought under the Litter Act 1979, which provides for fines of up to $30,000 for a company or $5000 for an individual, while Auckland Council imposed a total of $20,000 of instant fines, ranging from $100 to $400 for first offenders.
"One of the problems with prosecutions is they tend to be expensive, the fines are often too low and there are difficulties on the evidential side."
It cost ratepayers $1 million a year to collect more than 1300 tonnes of illegally-dumped rubbish.
One of the hotspots that saw an increase over the holidays was rural Mangere, north of the airport where warehouses are pushing into the countryside.
This month a truckload of household rubbish was dumped on Renton Rd. It included a sofa, a big TV that someone has stripped of saleable metal, and huge plastic containers of the kind used to hold chemicals.
Auckland Council logged 42 illegal dumping jobs for this road and adjacent Ihumatao and Oruarangi roads between July and December 2017 but said some may have been duplicate jobs for the same incidents.
Each week there is a fresh dump on these roads. It was a bane in the life of Trevor Ellett, a lifelong resident of Ihumatao Rd near the historic stonefields, until his death last year, aged 96.
He went to war with the council, pushing it to take action where possible, his daughter Jill Ellett, told the Herald. He would fossick through the rubbish for clues, maybe correspondence bearing an address.
"He'd take note of car registrations when he could."
"My dad fought for years with the council [to try to get something done]. I think there were one or two prosecutions."
It had got worse since paddocks gave way to warehouses, she said.
The Elletts, along with the Wallaces, Rennies and Montgomeries farmed this region. They sold portions of their properties to the state to form the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve.
It was once the most productive dairying land in the country, she said.
Further down the road, Paul reckons dumping incidents has increased "tenfold" in recent times. "Someone has been dumping truckloads," said Paul who preferred to give only his first name.
The night before the Herald approached him he had encountered a car with a trailer "full of stuff". "I shone the torch in their direction and that may have spooked them."
"We should do a camera operation and a name and shame but if I did it, well I live here, the next thing my dog gets poisoned."
Goff said council data didn't show an increase in roadside dumping except in the Manukau area after red-lid wheelie bins replaced black bags last year.
And a change requiring free inorganic collections to be booked did not appear to be a factor either.
"These are people that, one, don't give a damn about their environment and, two, are too damn lazy or too damn tight to pay [$40 for a bootload] for their rubbish to be disposed of properly."
Education was part of the answer but so was "a big stick", said Goff.
"My instructions to council staff are … to up your actions to track and identify offenders and fine and prosecute them and to come back to me on the adequacy of the law."
Goff wants the public to provide information, vehicle registration numbers and photos.
Until a specific hotline is running, call 09 301 0101.