July 08, 2020
Heavy rains expose dump site folly
Gisborne District Council staff are trying to cap a landfill that has been breached by a rain-swollen Awatere River and is spilling waste along the coast near Te Araroa.
Ngāti Porou environmentalist Tina Ngata says the tip closed about 15 years ago, but it is full of household and agricultural waste and toxic substances including asbestos, agrichemicals, paints and solvents.
She says locals have objected to the dump since it was built almost half a century ago.
"It’s a sacred site for us. It was a warrior wānanga site. It is also our kāpata kai, it's our food source. We set our nets around here, we dive, we fish around here. Our children swim here in the summer, so we were never happy about a dump site being put here. River mouths move so it was always going to be vulnerable to coastal erosion," she says.
Tina Ngata says the breach will increase pressure on the council to dig up the waste and take it somewhere less vulnerable to the elements.
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