Regional | Gisborne

‘Unacceptable’: 700 tonnes of waste illegally dumped across Te Tai Rāwhiti in one year

Rubbish, including tyres and corrugated iron, dumped in the Gisborne district. Photo supplied / Gisborne District Council

Fly-tipping is skyrocketing in Gisborne, with 700 tonnes of trash - including pig carcasses, syringes, fridges, and car tyres - estimated to have been dumped this financial year.

That is up from 350 tonnes in the 2023 financial year, which was more than double the 150 tonnes dumped in the 2021 financial year.

“It’s not just our beautiful beaches that have been abused with rotting carcasses, human faeces and household rubbish, it’s our residential areas,” Gisborne District Council’s solid waste manager Phil Nickerson said.

“This includes people’s private properties, commercial areas, roadsides, and recreational areas.”

The cost to the community for disposing of illegal waste was $485 a tonne for landfill gate fees, plus collection costs, Nickerson said.

Te Tai Rāwhiti’s waste disposal fees were among the highest in the country because there were limited landfill options, so most rubbish was trucked out of the district, he said.

Trash collected on 16 April, along with eight pig carcasses, from a small stretch of sand dunes along Centennial Marine Drive in Gisborne. Photo supplied / Gisborne District Council

That meant ratepayers ended up paying “exorbitant costs” to clean up other people’s trash.

“On gate fees alone this year’s bill is forecast to be $339,500. This unexpected spike in fly-tipping means this year’s costs will completely blow the council’s annual budget of $70,000.”

Tai Rāwhiti Mayor Rehette Stoltz said it was “heartbreaking” to see the quantity of rubbish that was dumped.

“I live just outside of town and often I drive home and there are old mattresses or an old TV or just someone’s black bags that they’ve dumped next to the road.

“It’s unacceptable and it’s really disappointing.”

Nickerson said bags of rubbish dumped this week on the side of Stanley Road broke open, spilling about 50 needles and syringes across the footpath.

Some of the rubbish that was dumped at Stanley Road, Gisborne, this week. Photo supplied / Gisborne District Council

“Not only is this a major concern, but it’s also a serious risk to pedestrians, including children and animals walking to the beach.

“It’s a serious risk to our contractors who collect this waste for disposal.”

There had also been a significant increase in illegal dumping outside businesses and charity shops.

Waste Management staff spent around two or three hours every morning clearing dumped rubbish from outside the transfer station’s gate, he said.

That included rubbish bags, construction and building waste, couches and mattresses, and sometimes weighed up to four tonnes.

Fly tipping in a residential area of Gisborne. Photo supplied / Gisborne District Council

“Waste dumped outside after hours is not acceptable disposal.”

Much of the illegal dumping found contained recyclable items, like washing machines, fridges, cars, bottles and plastics, which could have been disposed of at no cost, Nickerson said.

He thanked community members who disposed of their waste correctly, as well as those who volunteered to pick up illegal dumping, but said the latter was a short-term fix.

“Think about the products you buy and how you can reduce the waste that’s produced.”

The council was planning to increase kerbside collection services to help better separate waste.

There were also plans for a resource recovery centre and increased education around waste, Nickerson said.

People could report illegal dumping by using the GDC Fix App, emailing or calling 0800 653 800.