Community power against littering



29 March 2019

People of all ages from around Rotorua are fighting back against litter and using community power to clean up their neighbourhoods.

All over the district different groups have been doing their part to keep Rotorua clean and tidy.

In the past six months Council has supported at least 15 community clean ups by providing bags, gloves and rubbish removal but it’s the volunteers doing the hard work.

Check out what’s been happening:

Malfroy School clean up

Several years ago children from Malfroy School came up with the concept of the ‘Utuhina Warriors’ – a programme that encouraged young people to look after the environment, especially in the areas around their school.  

This year the Utuhina Warriors are focusing on things they can change such as helping to keep the environment clean and doing community service.

Earlier this month the entire school took time out of their day to do a litter clean up in the areas surrounding their school including the Utuhina Stream.

Within an hour and a half the children had collected more than 40 bags of rubbish. Some of it was larger items but about 80% of the rubbish found could go into residential wheelie bins.

Malfroy School teacher Helen Ramsdale said the children were shocked about some of the rubbish they found in such a short time.

“We found dumped rubbish bags full of general household rubbish, clothes, car parts, a broken pushchair, guttering, ropes, plastic takeaway rubbish, rusty metal and cardboard boxes.

“Some of the children really care about the environment so they were at first excited about helping but then they felt sad that there was so much dumping.

“They enjoyed working together, getting the rubbish out and felt really proud of their achievements.

“The children feel it is everyone's job to keep our community clean, including theirs. They would like to ask others to do their part by not littering or dumping.”

The message for Rotorua from Malfroy School students is:

Please 'play fair' and put it in the bin

Please take a minute to recycle or compost rubbish (if it can be)

This is our planet, there is no emergency exit if we wreck it. We need to look after it for our children's children.

Please help us keep our community clean

Telfer Young Lake Okareka clean up

Sustainable Coastlines sponsors Telfer Young Rotorua brought together a group of their clients to help support the Lake Okareka community by cleaning up Boyes Beach which was suffering from quite a lot of litter left over after the busy summer period.

Telfer Young’s Administration Specialist Natalie Putt said the company’s staff really wanted to immerse themselves in supporting the cause by giving up their own time and asking their clients to join in. ANZ Bank, ASB Bank, Westpac and Blankman Spargo all got in on the action.

“The clean up at Boyes Beach Lake Okareka helped us to promote a cause that TelferYoung (Rotorua) is very passionate about and also fit in well with the Sustainable Coastlines vision of beautiful beaches and healthy water,” Natalie said.

“The rubbish found between the groups was very similar and mainly consisted of bottle caps, cigarette butts, glass bottles and plastic bags.

“At first glance the coastline looked tidy and well-presented but on closer inspection it showed that rubbish can build quite quickly by finding its way into the bushes and other hidden places that might not always be accessible or seen by everyone that is trying to keep the area clean.”

Ms Putt said the company’s goal is to make this an annual event to promote the ‘Keep NZ Beautiful’ message and she hopes they can encourage more people to take part each year.

“It does not take much effort to walk to a bin or take your rubbish away with you to dispose of correctly. Telfer Young (Rotorua) want to encourage people to look after our environment and clean up after themselves, so our waterways have a chance against this littering that is currently happening.

“We would like to encourage people to take the steps required to ensure our nature and coastlines are preserved and sustained for future generations to come.”

Keeping Rotoma Beautiful

Rotoma lovers dedicated to keeping their place beautiful have been meeting regularly to clean up litter there.

Organiser Jonette Mead says they started meeting regularly in November 2017 and have since completed about 13 clean ups.

The volunteers are all ages and not just locals - one person who lives in Kawerau but grew up in Rotoma travels to attend some of the clean ups to make sure their home stays beautiful.

Some weekends they have had up to 40 people turn up to help.

Ms Mead says the rubbish they find is varied and can include household furniture and electronics, but they always come across small items such as plastic drinking straws, lolly pop sticks, cigarette butts, bread ties and bottle tops.

“I think people litter because they think they are the only one doing it and it will just blow away or they have no sense of belonging to our place.

“I want to tell people to take responsibility even if it’s not your rubbish, even if it’s not your place, please don’t drop it.”

The Keeping Rotoma Beautiful clean ups are continuing to run if anyone is keen to join. Follow them on Facebook at

Page reviewed: 30 Mar 2019 3:00pm