From: Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust
Date: 1 September 2002
SUBJECT: INORGANIC CLEAN UP OF RANGITOTO ISLAND
Held between the 15th and 25th February 2002, the inorganic cleanup was intended to remove 80yrs of accumulated hard rubbish off Rangitoto and Motutapu islands.
While there had been Island Care Trust clean up every year of the foreshore of Rangitoto Island, no cleanup of Rangitoto Island itself had ever been done.
Rangitoto Island has had baches on it since 1911 and whilst in the early days there were an abundance of ferry services the island had been kept relatively clean except for where Bach users had put hard rubbish down crevices. In 1957 the Hauraki Gulf Maritime parks board pulled down/burnt significant numbers of baches and continued to do so until the 1980's. They were not inclined to remove the leftover hard rubbish but attempted to bury it or just left it on site. Two other Bach sites in recent times were just pulled down and the sites remained an eyesore.
On Motutapu there are 50 or more World War 2 bunkers and some of these had become a repository for old farm equipment, old stoves, fridges, ovens etc from both baches and the Outdoor Education Camp. The old CMS base at Islington Bay was not to be touched.
Further to this current baches had been unable to remove all their accumulated rubbish via the commercial ferries for some years and the Trust itself had created some when it re-roofed Bach 38 in preparation for its restoration as a museum.
Mike Morris of Gamma Corporation was contacted as he had had experience of removing rubbish from Gulf Islands and a tour of the islands was undertaken by Mike, DoC and the Trust to assess the amount of rubbish, make initial plans, talk about suitable dates, equipment etc. Gamma presented a proposal for the entire cleanup (included in presentation) dates were set, barges booked and then it was up to the Trust to find the funds.
Auckland Regional Council Environmental Initiatives Fund provided $1500 towards the cost of a barge trip, Zero Waste Trust $1000 towards safety equipment and incidentals, and Trillian trust $3228.75 towards the equipment and the Department of Conservation paid for the return barge trip. Fullers were approached regarding the cost of the ferry trip for volunteers and agreed to a 50% cut in the normal fare, making it $10. However to take advantage of this offer the tickets had to be paid for in advance, which presented its own problems. I decided to take a punt and ordered tickets on my Visa card and on sold them to the volunteers who came. The ARC went one step further and to encourage groups of people who were interested e.g. Lynfield College they subsidized their trip fully and others only paid $5. Marie Alpe from DoC was instrumental in the production of the flyer and between us we contacted as many people as possible that we thought might come as volunteers. As you can see from the poster (included) we were not offering a walk in the park but took great pains to outline the hazards that the volunteers could face including white tailed spiders!!!
Another type of rubbish was expected to be found - hazardous waste, either in dumpsites or in existing baches. This waste was old paint, creosote, rat poison, varnish, old batteries etc. Patricia Blutner of the ARC and Mike Morris arranged for 2 Hazardous waste bins to be made available and only DoC staff would move what came to light. The waste was appropriately disposed of on the mainland.
We had originally estimated 35 tonne of material existed and that we would need Subritzkys barge to move all the equipment in (the only landing place is Yankee Wharf at Islington Bay) on Friday 15th February so that it would be in place for the volunteers the following Saturday. That Saturday/Sunday we planned to clean up Islington Bay and Beacons End. During the week, Philip had arranged for staff and Conservation Volunteers to clean out the bunkers. The following weekend the cleanup would concentrate on Rangitoto Wharf. On Monday the 25th Subritzky's would come back and take it all away.
Quite a number of Bach holders/caretakers took the opportunity to have a clean out and then join in the actual cleanup. One of the most unusual things to be moved was the original Community Hall piano that had been stored in a Bach - we had to move it back to the Hall.
Saturday 16th - Clean up of Islington Bay. All days proceeded with a briefing from Philip on hazards, do and don'ts. One of these was water - there is none drinkable at Islington or Beacon End, Philip would supply what was needed. People were warned to watch out for dehydration and hazardous waste. Then it was all on. The Auckland Canoe Club had volunteered for that day and they had canoed there and expected to canoe back as well. For clean up volunteers they were so fit and able we shifted a lot of rubbish! The number of water tanks that were found left in the bush - we lost count, they were rolled along the track and then squashed by the big loader.
I need to explain that Rangitoto Island does not have an easy terrain. Access to the rubbish, which was mainly concentrated around the coast where the Bach communities had been, was via a coastal path that was not in good repair. Everything had to be bought back to the main road or wharf area where the 30m3 bins were. This meant of lot of to-ing and fro-ing. The wheelbarrows and trolleys we had hired were put to good use, in fact we should have organized more, but not every hire place wanted their equipment on Rangitoto for over a week! We ended up borrowing Motutapu farms dump truck as well.
Sunday 17th - Beacon End. Not as many volunteers today although one was a German tourist bought along to have a Kiwi experience! This time we had to dodge the Fullers Tourist train in accessing the sites and removing the rubbish. It was a beautiful day and to sit and have lunch looking out to Takapuna was bliss - but back to the grindstone.
Saturday 23rd - Rangitoto Wharf. More volunteers with Lynfield College Environmental group coming - although some of them had no idea what was in store. Philip and Mike had seen all the roofing iron so this was moved first onto a flat tray (see photos) and then the rest of the rubbish was moved. We concentrated on the right side of the wharf first, bringing everything back to the green area where the bins were parked. By this time Mike had realised there was more rubbish than first thought, so a sifting process was started. Burnables were put aside to be dealt with later, recyclables such as copper and aluminum were also put aside. We made a better job of keeping interesting items such as a wooden cheese grater, gramophone needles, whale oil and interesting bottles. The bins were then carefully stacked with Philip overseeing the process. Again the tourist train had to be negotiated so did the influx of visitors who on the whole were impressed by the whole thing even if they found their path blocked by on-coming sheets of roofing iron. Rubbish was shifted around the coastal track to the wharf or to the end of the track by Bach 11 where it was loaded onto the dump truck.
Sunday 24th - Rangitoto Wharf. Volunteers from a church group worked extremely hard shifting more from the collection points and starting to comb 'empty' sites for old rubbish such as bottles.
A word here about bottles - on Rangitoto nothing actually rots because the ground water goes straight through. Iron still looked like iron after all this time and so did the bottles. Bottles have the added problem of being smashed creating a health and fire hazard so we were keen to remove as many visible ones as possible. Bottles were separated and put into separate bins.
A small group went back to Islington Bay to finish off the areas not completed the previous week.
By Sunday afternoon the bins were full and kiwi ingenuity had managed to crush all the water tanks (see photos), all the sorting had been done and it was time to go home. Mike was left to load two cars onto the roofing iron and tie it all down ready for the next day.
Monday 25th - Mike oversaw the loading of the barge back to Half Moon Bay where the trucks left for his depot in Otahuhu. By the afternoon it had all been weighed and recycled and the project was complete.
Bin 1 - 5260kg
Bin 2 - 5280kg
Bin 3 - 4720kg
Bin 4 - 6060kg
Bin 5 - 5960kg
Bin 6 - 2790kg of glass
Total weight 30070kg.
This was close to what we expected to move but there is lot more left over there!
I counted 130 volunteers - these were people including Bach holders who came to clear out and clear up. It would have been nice to have more but in the end we had no space for the rubbish. Some people came all four days - how's that for punishment and others like Lynfield College have gone on to do other conservation activities.
It was difficult to get publicity for the project, the NZ Herald least of all. Suburban newspaper did a wonderful job and even followed it up when I gave them the details. This was great exposure. DoC took all the names of the volunteers that I had and sent Certificates of Appreciation to them all - a very nice touch. Other publicity is happening now - the Chinese Conservation Trust wrote about (in Chinese) in their newsletter and it was mentioned in the ARC - Region Wide as well. DoC is about to use some of the photos for their latest volunteer newsletter.
We had several cases of dehydration and we should have stressed that Rangitoto is just that much warmer than other places. We had one accident with broken glass that required stitches - it has healed well. The gloves that we provided were an absolute necessity and most were ruined by the end of the project. On the whole people did take notice of the need for good footwear, drinking water and hats etc but we were all extremely tired at the end. A white tail spider was encountered and a DoC staff member was stung by a bee.
Without the professional help of Mike Morris and Philip MacDonald I don't think this could have been accomplished. Although for our Trust it is not our main focus, doing the clean up has been good for us. It has raised our profile and provided us with a degree of credibility that we can accomplish a project such as this.
I cannot thank enough Christine Potts of the ARC, Marie Alpe of DoC, Mike Morris of Gamma, and Phillip Mac Donald, Chief Ranger DoC, Rangitoto Island, for all their help. It wasn't until the last few weeks that it all came together and I had started planning in June 2001!
Rangitoto is a special place and having cleaner makes
it all worthwhile.