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Waterways polluted by offerings

DANIELLE STREET
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2014
Offerings
SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE: Hindu priest Vasantbhai Shukla says religious offerings need to be disposed of in a proper manner.
Offerings
FLORAL FLOTSAM: Some of the plastic and flowers spotted in Waikowhai Bay by kayaker Nick Whitehead.

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People making religious offerings are being reminded not to dispose of the waste in the region's waterways.

Kayaker Nick Whiteside often visits Hillsborough's Waikowhai Bay and says on any given day he will see fruit and flower debris on the shore.

In one particularly galling incident he spotted some rubbish floating way out while kayaking and decided to follow it back to shore.

"I came across some people emptying multiple bags of flowers, cooked food, tinfoil, plastic bags and plastic bottles into the sea," Mr Whiteside says.

"I asked them why they were polluting the beach and was told that they were not polluting, but were worshipping."

Mr Whiteside says he doesn't mind the organic matter so much, but plastic should not be thrown into the sea.

"It's lazy practice," he says.

Hindu priest Vasantbhai Shukla from the Acharya Ashram in Balmoral says offerings to a deity need to be disposed of in a proper manner.

"We believe that no edible item should be thrown into the rubbish," he says.

Mr Shukla says besides eating the food there are three options for disposal - burning, burial or submersion.

"Here in New Zealand 99 per cent of people would put it in their garden," he says.

He says placing plastic rubbish in the sea is not allowed.

An Auckland Council spokeswoman says the council has not received any complaints about littering at Waikowhai Bay.

"We do ask that anyone putting offerings into Auckland's waters as part of their cultural worship ensures they are not harmful to the environment," she says.

"Putting plastic wrapping, bags and tinfoil into the sea is littering and is an offence."

To report littering phone Auckland Council on 301 0101.

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