Auckland Council’s Laxon Esplanade Reserve in Ōtara has been given a real facelift after more than four truckloads of illegally dumped waste were recovered on Tuesday, thanks to the collaborative efforts of council park rangers, waste solutions staff, and Royal New Zealand Navy and New Zealand Army volunteers.
Auckland Council park ranger, Kara Goddard, was notified about the huge amount of waste hidden down the steep banks at the rear of the reserve, thanks to keen spotting by a group of local community tree planters.
The local conservationists were doing riparian planting along the lower end of the Waitematā Harbour at Curlew Bay – the estuary which flows at the back of the reserve – when they saw the banks were littered with illegally dumped items.
“The stars really aligned because after being notified about the waste by a local tree-planting group, I was contacted by the Royal New Zealand Navy, who were offering volunteer support for community projects around Auckland waterways,” says Kara Goddard.
“The moment they asked, I knew I had the perfect project for them. Laxon Esplanade Reserve was crying out for attention and recovering the waste from the estuary embankments was going to be no mean feat,” she says.
Goddard estimates almost four tonnes of rubbish was removed from the reserve’s environs.
The team of ten volunteers recovered a huge range of items including 27 tyres, five mattresses, five couches, an electric stove, a fridge, and a flat-screen TV as well as more than 50 large bags of household rubbish. The rubbish bags alone weighed 860 kilograms.
“We’re delighted to be able to help,” said Acting Base Commander, Lieutenant Commander Roger Saynor.
“The Devonport Naval Base considers itself to be a good neighbour within the Auckland community. Beach, stream and estuary clean-ups are conducted on several occasions throughout the year by sailors and, sometimes, soldiers under training, as a way of fostering team building, integrity, comradeship and a sense of service among our personnel.”
Once the Navy and Army team had worked their magic on the reserve, park rangers coordinated with Auckland Council’s Waste Solutions team to remove and dispose of the waste.
“It’s great to see what can be accomplished when we all work together,” says Parul Sood, General Manager Waste Solutions.
“Illegal dumping is a real eyesore, as well as causing environmental damage. We’re committed to taking action so that Aucklanders can get the most from our beautiful local parks and waterways.”
“We’re hugely grateful to the volunteers from Unit AET Charlie Class 19/02 and Base Operations Unit of HMNZS Philomel. They worked relentlessly for half a day to recover every last bit of illegally dumped waste. It’s going to make a huge difference to the health of the estuary and the surrounding land to have the waste gone. Not to mention how much safer and more enjoyable the park will be for local families and whānau,” says Goddard.
Following on from the cleanup, Ōtara Papatoetoe Local Board will be holding a Neat Streets event in the local area to support local families and whānau to clean up their neighbourhood, dispose of unwanted items, and minimise household waste.