DOC is responsible for the management of the amphitheatre-shaped gorge, which is significant to local iwi and DOC. Te Toto overlooks the Tasman Sea on the south western slopes of Te Maunga o Karioi west of Pirongia Forest Park and was once the site of Maori gardens.
DOC’s Waikato District Biodiversity and Recreation/Historic Supervisor Glyn Morgan says rubbish dumping at Te Toto Gorge is an ongoing issue for the Department and mana whenua, and this behaviour disrespects the importance of the location and its history.
“We’ve found some disgusting stuff dumped out there – used nappies, bags of household waste, construction materials, and even 180 old tyres, which we removed in a joint operation with Waikato Regional Council,” Glyn Morgan says.
“The effort we have to go to cleaning up and disposing of this junk takes our team away from core conservation work and diverts our resources from protecting threatened species and improving visitor experiences.”
The dumping of rubbish on Public Conservation Land is illegal. Under the Conservation Act, an individual can face up to two years’ imprisonment or a fine up to $100,000 for contaminants, while a corporate can face up to a $200,000 fine. Under the Litter Act, an individual can be fined up to $5,000 and a corporate up to $20,000.
All local councils offer refuse disposal services to residents and business, Glyn Morgan says.
“So ultimately there’s absolutely no excuse for tipping trash into a location like this. We’re sick of it and find it grossly disrespectful.”
Any visitors to Te Toto Gorge who see rubbish dumping or similar behaviour are urged to take down details of any vehicles or people they see involved.
“Registration numbers, vehicle descriptions and photographs are very useful to us in pursuing the dumpers,” Glyn Morgan says.
“Any information can be provided to us by the public via the 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) line,” he says.