A Coromandel woman who happened upon hoards of household rubbish discarded illegally in native bush wants dumpers to clean up their act.
Laura Lee stumbled upon abandoned boat motors, fishing nets, car parts, chest freezers, dirty nappies, smashed windows and broken bottles during her walks from Tuateawa to Kennedy Bay during lockdown.
The act shows a "level of disrespect" for the environment, she said.
"I was absolutely heartbroken to see how many people had been dumping items just everywhere - everywhere they were able to stop the car, basically.
"The extent of the rubbish was unbelievable."
Lee, whose family owns a property in Tuateawa, on the eastern Coromandel, said although the dense native bush made it difficult to spot the waste from the road, once presented with a closer look, you could see "litters of rubbish for miles".
Some larger objects, such as unwanted household appliances, had been dumped down banks and ropes would be needed to retrieve them.
"I felt really upset and disappointed. It's native Kiwi land and there's been a lot of work put in to try and boost the Kiwi numbers, and when you walk into the bush and see what the Kiwi are trying to live in, it's so sad.
"And the worst thing is, there is a rubbish service provided, so there is absolutely no need for people to do this," Lee said.
Kerbside collections of rubbish from Thames-Coromandel households has resumed following the Covid-19 alert level four lockdown, with weekly collections of rubbish in blue council bags and fortnightly collections of glass recycling in crates, and plastic, tins, cardboard and paper in wheelie bins.
Lee said many of the abandoned items bore clues that they were dumped by locals.
She's since contacted Thames-Coromandel District Council and provided them with "distinctive items that could carry some evidence" tracing back to those involved.
Despite this, Lee said there were many hardworking people in the community whose efforts were being ruined by the odd dumper.
"I'm extremely proud of the community for getting involved and taking this problem seriously," she said.
"I know we can tackle this problem if we all work together."
Council's solid waste manager Mark Cressey said while dumpers can be issued with infringement notices, its current approach was educating people through signage and letters to residents.
"We monitor known dump sites and investigate any fly-tipping with a view to prosecuting the dumpers when we can, and recovering the costs of clean up."
The costs associated with the removal of items was subject to a contracted charge-out rate which would include costs for labour, PPE, transport and disposal, he said.
"There has been a small increase [throughout the alert level four lockdown] in rubbish being illegally dumped beside bins in rest areas, beaches, parks, and at gravel storage areas and intersections of local and state highways."
If someone is suspicious of dumping rubbish illegally, they are asked to contact council's customer services team on07 868 0200 or email email@example.com.
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