Whanganui needs to lift its game if it wants to be New Zealand's most beautiful city.

The challenge has been laid down by Whanganui district councillor Helen Craig who has recently returned from the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards.

It's an award Whanganui District Council has set its sights on after councillors recently voted to ask staff to pull together a bid to win the most beautiful city award in 2019.

But she said Whanganui had to do better at dealing with waste, citing a recent example of renovation waste dumped down a gully on a College Estate section.

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It was "visual pollution" for the neighbours and completely unacceptable, she said.

"New Zealand is long past the point where we accept that people can dump anything on their properties and that's okay."

The Chronicle has reported countless cases of illegal dumping this year alone.

Just last month the volunteer-run Koha Shed spent $250 Whanganui Koha Shed clearing a big pile of household rubbish which had been dumped on its doorstep.

In the same month Castlecliff resident Lynne Douglas said she was "disgusted and disheartened" by people dumping rubbish where she used to play barefoot as a child on Morgan St.

She found a burnt out car which left behind a spray of broken glass and twisted metal along with household waste strewn near the North Mole.

Whanganui district councillor Helen Craig.
Whanganui district councillor Helen Craig.

Earlier in the year new Whanganui resident Karl Fulton was devastated to come across a pile of rubbish, including razor blades and plastic bottles, he believed had been intentionally dumped in the water at the beach.

Dumped rubbish was found in the Titoki Wetland in February.

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Craig said the award was about sustainability as well as appearance - "the beauty underneath" - but she also wants a bylaw on rubbish disposal on private property discussed by Whanganui District Council's strategy and finance committee.

As she understands it, any rubbish can be disposed of on a city section, provided it's not a health hazard.

Clive Whitham, who is a compliance officer at Whanganui District Council, also leads the litter team to clean up when illegal dumpings are reported.

Earlier this year he said one of the first things they do is look for addresses or names in the rubbish.

"Then we visit, have a chat and we try to locate who's done it. Most will deny any knowledge of it and unless there's witnesses, we're buggered.

"We have to fine the person who dumped the rubbish, not the name in the rubbish."
Whitham said punishment was often diluted too.

The Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre is one scheme Whanganui could shout about when it enters the Keep New Zealand beautiful awards.
The Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre is one scheme Whanganui could shout about when it enters the Keep New Zealand beautiful awards.

"Prosecutions are too expensive. Cost you probably $1500-2000 in legal fees to get a $200 fine.

So, Craig is urging Whanganui residents to have some pride and do what they can.

"And clean up occasionally to improve the feel and charm of our already gorgeous city."

She believed it would help if there was a holistic rates-funded kerbside pickup for everyone and suggested council could try an annual rates-funded collection of inorganic waste from the kerbside.

It would cost, but Craig says we need to decide what's more important; the environment or our back pockets.

"You don't have to be well off to pull a few weeds," she said