Waiheke Island beauty spots marred by dumped rubbish
An evening walk along a clifftop road turnaround turned into a later mission for two of Auckland's Waiheke Island residents.
Diana Warnes and Will Ryan couldn't believe what they were seeing when they peeked over the edge of Newton Rd turnaround, overlooking picturesque Little Oneroa beach.
A huge pile of dumped rubbish was occupying the slope leading to the rocks below.
The pair returned with bin liners the following Sunday, October 2, to clear it up.
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But it was far worse than they expected.
"We were pulling out rubbish and finding even more.
"It was occupying a huge chunk of the cliff and trees had started to take root around it," Warnes said.
"We filled five large, black bin bags and retrieved two suitcases, a heavy iron car jack, two vehicle tyres and tyre hobs.
"There was a ridiculous amount of shoe inner soles, a child's stroller, car lights, drink bottles and cans as well as bags of rubbish that had been tied up and thrown over the cliff."
She said people probably dumped their rubbish so they didn't have to pay transfer station charges.
Warnes, who was born and raised on the island, has since formed a community group to tackle the problem.
She received 30 responses within hours of posting the October 4 appeal on Facebook.
She said the new group, We Can Do It Waiheke, would consider approaching Auckland Council for a once-a-month amnesty.
It would allow members to take the waste they collect to the transfer station and drop it off for free.
Waiheke Local Board chairman Paul Walden backs the move.
He said it would be cheaper for the council to agree to the suggestion rather than paying for contractors to remove reported trash.
Walden said anyone spotting dumped rubbish should call council on (09) 301 0101 to report it and should also log the call "so we can follow it up".
But Auckland Council Senior Waste Advisor Jan Eckersley said a monthly amnesty day would not be possible.
"Instead, the group could meet with members of the council's Waste Solutions team, or other community groups on the island, to discuss other ways they would provide help to beautify the island.
"These could include opportunities such as organising litter clean-ups in the bush or on the beach, encouraging residents to be vigilant of dumpers and to report them if witnessed, and assisting in looking after dumping hotspots."
Eckersley said council officers found areas were less likely to be dumped on if they looked cared for.
She said council's preferred solution to illegal dumping would be for the group to report locations where they noticed dumped rubbish.
Jobs could be logged with the council's call centre for one of its contractors to remove.
"If there is evidence or a witness, our enforcement team can investigate in an effort to identify the offender," she said.
"This way, we can get a clearer picture of the scale of the problem and can take steps to address it.
"Our contractors are experienced in rubbish removal and more able to deal safely with any risks and hazards faced in the removal of large items from difficult to access locations."
See aucklandcouncil.govt.org for information on transfer station charges.
Visit Facebook page We Can do It Waiheke for details of the new group.