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Minister thanks volunteers as Fox clean-up draws to a close

As the clean-up of the Fox River draws to a close the Minister of Conservation and Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage is thanking volunteers and government agencies involved in the massive clean-up since the Government stepped in to unify efforts.

“This is a beautiful part of the country and it’s been incredible to see the massive effort put into Operation Tidy Fox to clean up the rubbish in the Fox and Cook Rivers and along the coastline with thousands of volunteers led by Department of Conservation staff and supported by the New Zealand Defence Force.

“Almost 1,000 (998) volunteers from all around New Zealand, and the world, have contributed nearly 20,000hrs to help clean up the rubbish eroded from the closed Fox landfill.

“These volunteers have been led by Department of Conservation staff and supported by New Zealand Defence Force personnel and equipment. 

“Together the combined effort has seen more than 1,300 rugby fields worth of riverbed and 64km of coastline cleared with 472 fadges (~14,000 household rubbish bags) worth of rubbish picked up.

“A massive thank you to the hundreds of people who answered the call to help clean up this magnificent part of the country and to the government agencies for pitching in to complete the clean-up in record time.

“When I visited volunteers and staff in July they told me about how the clean-up was an eye-opening experience that reinforced the fact that there is no ‘away’ when it comes to waste. The rubbish spilled into the river has been sitting there for decades and highlights how we need to do all we can to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills.

In early May the Government provided over $150k of in-kind support from the Department of Conservation and a monetary contribution of $300k of support to Westland District Council, who are responsible for the landfill, to support the clean-up of rubbish eroded from the historic Fox landfill.

After Westland District Council informed Ministers that they could not manage the clean-up, DOC took over as lead agency for the on the ground clean up on 19 June.

NZDF soon joined the efforts with the first wave of personal and vehicles sent on 8 July.

“NZDF’s contribution has helped enormously with specialist equipment and personnel speeding up the clean-up."  

A further $300k of funding from the Ministry for the Environment, Land Information New Zealand and DOC was dedicated towards supporting the volunteer efforts after DOC took over with significant staff time being absorbed by DOC’s departmental budgets.