Sense of loss over death spurs thousands to turn out for cleaning blitz on Dunedin streets.

While a sense of loss lingers in Dunedin's student area, it has spurred volunteers to care for their neighbourhood.

The estimated 2500 students and other volunteers may have initially felt unneeded during a memorial clean-up yesterday as the streets north of the University of Otago were already relatively clean.

But when a few began stepping into the bushes and front yards of flats, and others followed, they uncovered troves of old alcohol bottles, broken bikes and used tyres.

An estimated 2500 turned out for the cleanup. Photo / Christine O'Connor
An estimated 2500 turned out for the cleanup. Photo / Christine O'Connor

The clean-up followed a request from the parents of 19-year-old student Sophia Crestani, who died at a Dunedin house party this month.


Volunteers were provided with bags, gloves and other tools for the job.

Student Tom Western, 19, said the exam period meant the streets were not as bad as they could be in other parts of the year. "I think it's good that a lot of people are aware of the situation and the family. It's good that everyone has come out in numbers."

Maddy Hiskens, 19, and friends got a good haul of cans, vodka bottles and the odd sock. "We just went along gardens and into people's flats."

Aaron Hawkins, the mayor elect, was among the people pulling bottles out of bushes.

He said the city shared the university's successes, but also its grief. "That's why we're here today."

Sophia Crestani.
Sophia Crestani.

Otago University Students' Association president James Heath said the day was "outstandingly successful" and numbers climbed as the afternoon progressed.

"The clean-up ended earlier than expected, due to the incredible volume of people helping, which is a fantastic result. We could not have had a better response, truly showing the strength of our community," Heath said.

"We did this for Sophia."


The Dunedin City Council provided extra kerbside collections and staff volunteered.