'Donations' of rubbish is a problem which affects many charity stores in Te Awamutu - and volunteers are stumped as to why they should have to deal with it.
Dianne Gray owns Nellie's Bazaar in the George Street shopping complex, the volunteer-run op shop that helps fund TA Care.
For the last 10 years Dianne and her volunteers have been rescuing stray animals, mostly cats and kittens, fostering them and selling them.
The op shop subsidises the costs so people can adopt them at a reasonable cost.
Like the other charity stores, Dianne often arrives to find 'donations' left at the back door off the service lane.
She has to pay for a skip bin as many of the 'donations' go straight into it for disposal — an added cost for the charity.
But the latest dumping was beyond a few items that weren't suitable for on-selling — large bags of household rubbish left on the driveway at the back of the store.
That was about three weeks ago and Dianne has been trying to get Waipā District Council to assist with their removal ever since.
She reported the dumping and a staff member attended and after a quick search had found paperwork identifying the culprit.
Dianne thought the staff member would deal with the problem, but nothing happened.
She did a bit more hunting herself and found more evidence, including a cell phone number, which she passed on to council.
Again she thought council staff would take action, but that wasn't the case.
Dianne says the rubbish started to smell, there was vermin and she was concerned about health and safety for her volunteers and for her neighbouring businesses — two food outlets.
But the news she got from council staff wasn't what she wanted.
"I was told dumping rubbish on the road verge was illegal — but this wasn't a road verge, so it wasn't their issue," Dianne says.
"Plus I was told I encouraged dumping because I have a bin at the back of my shop and I should look at my practices."
Dianne says her view is the rubbish is dumped on council land, so they should deal with it.
She says her bin is already full, so she doesn't have the ability to put it in there for removal, plus that would be an added cost for the charitable business.
"It already costs $2000 per year to get rid of rubbish people leave here," Dianne says.
"I'm not paying to get rid of someone else's rubbish and we can't take it back to the address it came from, because that would be illegal dumping."
She has tried various means to combat the problem, to no avail.
"I've installed security cameras three times," she says. "They just get stolen."
Dianne feels frustrated and let down by council.
"We work with council to rescue and look after animals that they cannot or will not care for," Dianne says.
"I feel like there is no attempt from council to look after TA Care despite the valuable community service we provide."
Council compliance manager Karl Tutty said the council was sympathetic but noted this kind of dumping was common around shops in the area.
But the rubbish is being dumped on private land at the back of the store and not on council land. This had been explained, he says.
"It sounds harsh, but all businesses including charity stores have to take responsibility for rubbish and take steps to deter it," he says.
"We simply don't have the resources to collect rubbish found on private property, next to a full skip bin. That is the responsibility of all stores and unfortunately, that includes charity stores.
"If you walk down this service lane there are bins and skips that are easily accessible, open and sometimes overflowing. This attracts more refuse and to suggests that it is council's responsibility is a bit unfair."
He rejected the suggestion council had done nothing.
He says council's role was enforcement against the dumpers, and staff had twice followed up with a phone number and addresses found in the rubbish.
Staff had also dealt with other businesses in the area not managing their skips appropriately.
"Even if we located the people whose names are found in the rubbish, it's a big step to then prove they dumped it, but if we do we fine people when we can," Karl says.
"We simply don't have the powers to make people tidy up though."
He says if the shop was concerned about vermin, they need to remove the rubbish for the sake of other nearby stores. That responsibility rests with the owner or occupier of the land.
"Staff have advised Dianne to take steps to deter this kind of behaviour," he says.
"Part of that is ensuring there's no mess left behind her building and that her skip bin is locked. This should also be a bigger conversation with other businesses and the landlord. We understand there's a cost to security cameras and we're sympathetic.
"But ratepayers can't be expected to step in and sort this it out over and over."