Rusted, weed-entwined, mud-soaked trolleys, road cones, plastic and other rubbish have been pulled out of an Auckland stream.

The haul was made by friends, Sam Bhatia, Mikael Coupe, Josh Grainger, Mitch Coubrough and Daniel Tolmie last week after filming for a plastic project.

Their aim is to remove plastic from the environment and then get funding through a TSB Bank grant to turn it into products that serve a long term purpose.

Tolmie, 19, and his friends were former Pakuranga College pupils and knew the nearby stream had a history as a dumping ground, so together and with camera in hand, they went down there to get footage.


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After just a minute or two, a trolley was found. Then another, and another over about a 300m distance.

"We had a feeling that there would be one in there because it's right next to a couple of supermarkets and did see one within the first minute of being there.

"Once we had seen the amount of trolleys, in particular, in the stream it kind of became a thing that we can't leave them here."

From left, Josh Grainger, Sam Bhatia, Daniel Tolmie, Mikael Coupe and Mitch Coubrough. Photo / Supplied
From left, Josh Grainger, Sam Bhatia, Daniel Tolmie, Mikael Coupe and Mitch Coubrough. Photo / Supplied

Four hours later, in the pouring rain, they'd managed to pull 14 from the stream. About 3 or 4 others were also spotted but despite their might, they couldn't get them out due to the silt and debris from recent storms.

After tidying it up, and with no way of taking them to the dump, they decided to get in touch with Auckland Council which said it would follow it up.

The boys went back on Tuesday to check, and to their disappointment the trolleys were still there.

They called the council again which said it had emailed Countdown and that it was Countdown's responsibility.


Tolmie said they then called Countdown which didn't know anything about it but assured the boys it would remove them.

The group went back to the stream the next day to discover a contractor removing the rubbish.

While pleased Countdown acted quickly, they were unimpressed with council's reaction.

"We thought it was pretty disheartening, maybe because it was a change of tone, from call to call. The first time was like 'great job guys', the second call was like 'yeah it's not our problem'.

"It's not our problem either but we still pulled them out."

Auckland Council's Parul Sood, general manager of Waste Solutions, said while reporting the dumped trolleys to council was the right thing to do, it was up to the supermarket to remove them.


"The NZ Retail Association has an accord with us and the main supermarkets to search for and remove their trolleys. This issue is also covered by the Waste Management and Minimisation bylaw.

"When the supermarket can be identified we request that they remove the trolleys. That is what has happened in this case. It was good to know the students saw the outcome of their work in progress."

Sood said the dumping of trolleys could be devastating for the environment as other debris could get caught up in it.

It appeared as though some of the trolleys had been in the water for some time given the amount of rust on them. Photo / Daniel Tolmie
It appeared as though some of the trolleys had been in the water for some time given the amount of rust on them. Photo / Daniel Tolmie

"The crucial thing is to try to make sure the trolleys are not dumped in the first place. Some supermarkets have fitted mechanisms to their trolleys to ensure they cannot be removed from site and we appreciate them taking responsibility in this way."

She thanked the group for their work in helping keep the community rubbish free.

A Countdown spokeswoman said "generally" its customers were good at returning trolleys after shopping.


"But on the odd occasion that they are taken from the store, we have a system for reporting and collecting abandoned or stolen trolleys through our customer care team.

"This includes both the local team and contractors collecting the trolleys."

The spokeswoman accepted there was some initial confusion about which nearby stores should retrieve the dumped trolleys but said it had since been cleared by a contractor.

"It's incredibly disappointing to see trolleys dumped in nature in this way and it's certainly not our intention to have any of our trolleys stolen or abandoned."

* The group are vying to win TSB Bank's Good Stuff Award. People can vote here