From the desk of Helen Wilson - Research and Innovation Manager
My two days’ worth was just a drop in the ocean, or should I say the riverbed, but every little bit helps. Why did I go? Basically I couldn’t think of a good reason not to. Climbing mountains, tramping in the bush and wandering along riverbeds admiring fish has provided me with a lot of enjoyment in my life, and possibly kept me sane as well. I owe the landscape of Tai Poutini so much. I really couldn’t ignore an opportunity to return the favour.
On 26 March 2019 floodwaters from the Fox River flowed through the old dump site dragging untold amounts of rubbish down into the riverbed and out into the ocean.
You will have seen the photos. 555 rugby fields worth. I wanted to get a sense of it myself – I needed to nudge myself to do better in terms of my own footprint. And to seal the deal, I was in a position to be able to put my hand up when DWC agreed to match a personal day with a paid leave day.
Two days on a riverbed watched over by the impressive Aoraki.
The rubbish wasn’t smelly or dirty, but it wasn’t a simple case of ‘picking’ it up. The force of the flood left indestructible bread bags from thirty years ago intricately wrapped around the roots of toppled trees requiring detangling with assorted tools.
It was hard work but I was in good company, with great food, well deserved beers at the end of the day and all that goes with it. The support from the local community and businesses was outstanding.
Yes I know, I wasn’t supposed to be having fun. But I did, I really enjoyed it. It was te tangata, the people. I met young tourists paying it forward, some retired ex-Coasters from Kapiti Coast who wanted to pay it back, a whole pile of old tramping-type folk like me in our trusty boots and gaiters and an old bloke from Northland making his way to Southland to deliver a dodgy car to whanau, getting some free accommodation and food in return for some work.
Kudos to the DOC staff who have had to herd cats, feed them and keep them safe, on a riverbed for days on end.
Our region's pristine environment is so important to our way of life and our economy. It was heartwarming to see so many people working together to help restore it.
1 August 2019
"Thanks to everyone who has signed up as a volunteer on Operation Tidy Fox. Because we have had such a fantastic response, we see an end in sight of mid-August for the Operation. Because of this we are no longer signing up volunteers. Thank you all so much."
So far on the rubbish clean-up:
2,392 volunteer days worked
661 NZDF days worked, and
543 DOC staff days worked.