DOC halts clean-up at Pirongia tip site

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2014
pirongia rubbish
NATIONAL TREASURE: The area around the Hihikiwi Track, which is part of the Te Araroa national walkway, has been plagued by illegal dumping.

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Safety fears have prompted conservation staff to block nature warriors from cleaning up a rotting river of rubbish on Pirongia mountain.

Department of Conservation workers found the rubbish had tipped onto private property neighbouring the Pirongia Forest Park, but Waikato partnerships manager Michelle Lewis said they would still play an active role in the clean up.

"The owners of the property say they have been plagued by illegal dumping of rubbish on their land for some years," she said.

"They now welcome the opportunity to sort this problem out and DOC is working with them to resolve the issue."

The trash heap attracted the attention of clean-campaigner Kiri Danielle who was prepared to get knee-deep in the filth to find a culprit and haul the mess to the tip.

Lewis said the dump site, on the side of the narrow, unsealed Pirongia West Rd, was on very steep land and unauthorised access to the property was discouraged.

She said sharp objects and hazardous materials could be in the pile and posed a health risk.

"We're aware of some community support for removing the rubbish. But we need to proceed with caution to ensure the removal work is done safely."

Otorohanga District Council and Waikato Regional Council were also involved with the clean-up and Lewis said the Corrections Department has been approached to provide help.

Details of the work, including the cost, were unavailable, but Lewis said it would be worked out between DOC, the property owners and the two councils.

The plan could also include help from Danielle who has been waging a private war on fly-tippers from her home in the Bay of Plenty.

Danielle, who described herself as "the woman who is going to clean the country", ran a campaign before the 2011 Rugby World Cup to get rubbish under control before international visitors arrived.

She will front a new programme on Maori Television called Kaitiakitanga and started filming just weeks before she read about the Pirongia dump site in the Waikato Times.

She hauled out a truck load of discarded tyres from Rotorua's Ngongotaha Mountain and cleared bags of trash from Maraetotara falls in Hawke's Bay.

"I've been sifting through the rubbish and I know when I'm going through it, all of these people complaining that they're not able to afford the dump.

There's KFC, there is McDonald's, there is synthetic drugs, there is alcohol, there is all that expensive stuff in there, a huge waste of food and it just doesn't cut it with me."

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elton.smallman@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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