By DIANE JOYCE – The Dominion Post, via Stuff, co.nz, 16/10/2010

An “astounding” 10 tonnes of rubbish has been dumped from the top of Hastings’ most well-known landmark, Te Mata Peak, risking its international reputation as a tourist attraction.

 

It is listed as a “must see” on national and international tourism websites, including the New Zealand Tourism Board’s “100% Pure New Zealand”.

 

A traffic count in the height of summer last year recorded 329 vehicles in one day, with a peak of 90 an hour.

But the amount of rubbish – including washing machines, driers, 44-gallon drums, stacks of tyres, street signs, wheelie bins and road cones – is risking its reputation.

Johnny Ryan, organiser of a “massive” working bee next month to clean it up, said it would take a huge effort.

“Literally tonnes of rubbish and tyres have been thrown … it has got to the stage where it’s spilling from the crevices and valleys in the cliffs on to the flat land.”

The 97-hectare park is run by an independent trust.

The 399-metre peak is in the eastern corner, and much of the rubbish ends up on private land below the crest.

Te Mata Park Trust Board member Mark Holder said the trust was fully involved in the rubbish removal.

The board had cleaned up before, the last time about a year ago when two truckloads of tyres were hauled out.

The situation had become a lot worse since.

“It’s astounding how much stuff there is … since they started chucking whiteware and orange road cones off there, it’s really obvious.”

The board’s biggest concern was when youths set fire to tyres and rolled them down the face in summer, risking setting fire to dry grass.

Mr Holder believed a lot of the rubbish was thrown by youngsters for a thrill, while others did not want to pay to take large items to the tip.

“The other day someone told me they’d seen a tradesman-type van up there and guys throwing building site rubbish off the peak,” he said.

Hastings District Council said it would prosecute anyone caught “fly-tipping”.

“There is no need to fly-tip when many things being dumped off Te Mata Peak can be recycled for free at the transfer station.”

The working bee organisers have lined up corporate backers to help remove the estimated 10 tonnes of trash, including Waste Management – which wants its 29 wheelie bins back – paragliding club members, and a 4×4 off-road club.

Abseilers will clear rubbish off the peak face, throwing it down to the flat, and a helicopter and four-wheel-drive vehicles will pick it up a week later on November 13.

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