National | Environment

Visitors using a sacred Tainui site as a dumping site

People are urged to stop dumping rubbish in Te Toto Gorge unless they are prepared to pay the price.

Individuals can face up to two years’ jail or a fine up to $100,000 for contaminants.

The Waikato Regional Council is urging people dumping rubbish at Te Toto Gorge to stop given the cultural significance to local iwi and the Department of Conservation (DoC).

DoC’s Waikato district biodiversity and recreation/historic supervisor Glyn Morgan says this has been a continuing issue. “We’ve found some disgusting stuff dumped out there – used nappies, bags of household waste, construction materials, and even 180 old tires, which we removed in a joint operation with Waikato Regional Council,” he says.

“The effort we have to go to cleaning up and disposing of this junk takes our team away from core conservation work and diverts our resources from protecting threatened species and improving visitor experiences.”

Big fines

Local government is warning people that dumping rubbish on public conservation land is illegal. As well as individuals, corporate can also face up to $200,000 fine under the Conservation Act, while the Little Act can fine individuals up to $5,000 and corporate up to $20,000.

The Te Toto Gorge was once the site for growing crops and kai for Maori. It overlooks the Tasman Sea on the southwestern slopes of Te Maunga o Karioi west of Pirongia Forest Park.

Morgan is encouraging anyone who visits Te Toto Gorge who sees rubbish dumping or similar behaviour to take down details of any vehicles or people they see involved.

“So, ultimately, there’s absolutely no excuse for tipping trash into a location like this. We’re sick of it and find it grossly disrespectful.”

“Registration numbers, vehicle descriptions and photographs are very useful to us in pursuing the dumpers,” Morgan says.