Bargain-price tyre dump gives holiday fun
The Aish family wasn't going to let tens of thousands of illegally dumped tyres put them off the chance to buy a bargain 59-hectare rural playground for their brood of Auckland-suburb-trapped children.
What officials saw as a nightmare dump of "up to a million" leachate-risk tyres on an abandoned Huntly property, the Aish family - two brothers and three sisters who between them have 15 children and a 16th on the way - saw a holiday escape from the rat race for a tick over $100,000.
While Waikato Regional Council pursues absconded former owner Ross Britten for a court-imposed $77,600 illegal-tyre-dumping fine, the Aishes have been enjoying camping and horse-riding in their new wilderness hideaway.
They bought the property under the company name Bendito - Spanish for "blessing".
Harley Aish, who is an Otara doctor, believes officials' million-tyre estimate is inflated, and that the number of tyres dumped by Britten is more like 100,000, though he concedes many are buried.
And though the family is "sad" at Britten's contamination of the land, Dr Aish said the tyres are no match for cooped-up children's joy at having freedom to roam. Half the property is native bush and the family is revelling in the sight and sounds of tui, wood pigeons, swans on the river and the occasional glimpse of a deer.
He said the family bought the property "with our eyes wide open" at a mortgagee sale after spotting it on Trade Me.
"We did a lot of research, the council was as helpful as it could be, and we read the court documents, which included expert advice on leachate. We will monitor the river in conjunction with the council, and there are some springs on the property but they are above the tyre burials."
Britten's fine for dumping the tyres over six years was imposed last week in the Hamilton District Court. The council fears he has gone to Australia to live to avoid the fine.
Council evidence was that Britten, an Auckland businessman, collected up to a million tyres from retail tyre outlets, charging businesses that believed he was disposing of them correctly. Instead he used his own earthmoving gear to bury the tyres.
Dr Aish said the council had asked the family not to dig up tyres.