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A distressing increase in rubbish behaviour

Eyesores marring the natural environment, such as couches submerged in the wetlands of Wairarapa Moana or soggy cardboard and plastic strewn across reserve land, are becoming an increasingly common sight south of Featherston, where multiple cases of illegal rubbish dumping have been reported to South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] in the past few months.

SWDC councillor Rebecca Gray told the Times-Age that rubbish dumping – also known as fly-tipping – should not be tolerated.

“We are so lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Unfortunately, an increasing number of folks are causing harm to our amazing space,” Gray said.

“We are also seeing increased use of public litter bins for household or business waste. These bins are provided by the council for litter reduction.”

SWDC has recorded 28 cases of illegal dumping so far this year, five of them reported in the past four weeks alone.

Gray said no reason justifies the environmental harm and community cost that results from fly tipping.

“When rubbish is disposed of correctly, it can be managed into appropriate streams – things can be recycled or diverted away from landfill, and hazardous waste can be managed carefully without impacting the health of others,” Gray said.

“When it is dumped on the side of the road, it means that council officers and contractors need to collect it at the expense of the ratepayer while putting themselves at risk in the process.

“It also means that it largely just goes to landfill, increasing the long-term environmental harm and missing the opportunity to recycle or repurpose.”

Western Lake Rd is a common location for illegal dumping, despite signs warning against the anti-social practice.

Given it is not feasible to put sufficient surveillance cameras up to cover such a vast area of road, Gray is urging members of the public to report any signs of dumping activity to SWDC or police.

“Illegal dumping is disrespectful, irresponsible, and puts the cost of disposing of this rubbish onto the community and residents across the district,” Gray said.

“If we can identify who is doing this, then we may be able to issue fines and recover some of the cost, and it sends a clear message to those who are at fault that the community will not tolerate such behaviour.”

Greytown, Featherston, and Pirinoa all have recycling and green waste stations where rubbish can be disposed of.

Martinborough has a full transfer station and Featherston’s Ā Mua Community Resource Centre – where recyclable materials and reusable items can be taken – has been running for two years.

A SWDC spokesperson said common items the council has seen dumped in the district included green waste, alcohol cans and bottles, car parts, broken furniture, and old appliances like vacuum cleaners and ovens.

“Dead animals or parts have also been dumped on rural areas roadsides including sheep, wild pigs and deer,” the spokesperson said.

“We have had a lot of fly-tipping outside Ā Mua over the past year – at least once a week.

“There is also a fair bit out by the coast, things like mattresses and TVs left near the bins. This is still illegal dumping as the bins provided are for the purpose of litter reduction and to ensure public areas remain free from litter.”

The spokesperson noted that dead animal rubbish has the potential to cause a health risk, particularly if dumped near waterways.

“Glass and metal also present safety hazards, especially when dumped in areas of long grass.”

One person dumping rubbish has been identified so far this year, but although police have been notified, the person has no fixed address and cannot be located.

Carterton District Council did not respond to a request for comment about whether fly tipping in its territory.

Masterton District Council [MDC] regulatory services manager Steven May said 11 reports of rubbish dumping have been received by the council this year and the council has not noticed a recent spike.

However, MDC’s contractor has attended nearly 50 incidents of waste dumped illegally in the district this year, with council recreational staff coming across cases in their daily work.

“MDC’s contractor has attended a total of 46 incidents of illegally dumped rubbish overall,” May said.

“They have also cleared 18 incidents of household rubbish dumped in public bins.”

This year, five people had been identified dumping rubbish in Masterton District, with one infringement issued and the other four perpetrators issued warnings.

May said that often the rubbish being illegally dumped could have been recycled at the council’s transfer station.

“We’d encourage people to see what can be recycled at low or no cost at their local transfer station,” May said.

Like SWDC, May noted that animal carcasses and household rubbish are often found dumped.

“Several clear ups have been related to discarded animal carcasses in reserve areas,” May said.

“Also, disposing of household rubbish in public rubbish bins has been noted by officers to be particularly prevalent in some coastal areas.”


  1. It’s a shame 😔 but some people don’t give a toss. Councils don’t help it by charging 😒 more and more for tip fee’s but as Councils have said it’s an income for them and rates will need to go up if it’s reduced or removed. Here’s an idea 💡 why don’t we join the district councils together and the money saved from this we can remove the tip fee’s 😉 😀. District councils would never let that happen.

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Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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