Green waste dumped at Lake Waiau
Image: DOC


Whanganui residents are being urged to dump green waste at appropriate facilities after a spate of “fly tipping” incidents at Gordon Park Scenic Reserve.

Date:  16 May 2024

The appeal comes from the Department of Conservation staff and volunteers with the Friends of Gordon Park community group, who share concerns the dumping of green waste may lead to infestations of weeds in the much-loved park.

The lush reserve is dominated by kahikatea and is home to rare native plants, birds and insects. It is the only remnant of mature swamp forest that shows how the Whanganui River flats might have once been.

DOC Community Ranger Hēmi Stuteley says dumping invasive weeds threatens the biodiversity of this special site.

“Each time someone dumps garden waste there’s a risk a new weed will take hold in the area.”

Two nationally threatened plant species - Mazus and Gratiola - grow in Gordon Park, and these low growing plants are easily smothered by weeds.

“The Friends of Gordon Park volunteers do an incredible job keeping the weeds down and protecting the unique area, but the continued dumping of waste adds more and more work,” says Hēmi.

“It’s not just here – DOC has had reports of green waste dumping at other local reserves and at Lake Waiau as well.”

“We need the support of the whole community to keep these places beautiful.”

Garden waste can be disposed of safely at the Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre or the Midtown Transfer Station.

“By trying to avoid the cost of disposing of green waste the right way, a small group of people are creating extra cleanups for DOC, taking time and resources away from our important biodiversity work,” says Hēmi.

Friends of Gordon Park spokesperson Bill Fleury says the group’s work at the reserve is rewarding for those involved, but setbacks like new weeds are frustrating.

“We are barely managing to keep on top of it – so it breaks our hearts to see the community literally dumping on our work.”

“Sometimes we arrive to see new plants we’ve raised from seed, buried under garden waste.”

“The dumping also spoils the picnic area for the many people and school groups who go out there to seek peace in nature.”

The Friends of Gordon Park do voluntary work at the reserve at least twice a month, carrying out weeding and restoration planting along the exposed edges of the forest. Those interested in supporting work at Gordon Park can contact

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.

Visitors who see rubbish dumping or similar behaviour are urged to take down details of any vehicles or people they see involved, as well as the time and date.

Hēmi says evidence such as registration, vehicle descriptions, and even photographs can help the Department of Conservation find green waste dumpers.

“Members of the public can report incidents of dumping via the 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) line.”


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