Clean-up of Daffodil Bay highlights community spirit

A litter event that drew national attention over Easter weekend became an opportunity for the community to come together to clean up a beloved recreational area in Invercargill.

Local Lesley Treweek, who has been photographing birdlife at Sandy Point for about 10 years, said that she had never seen anything like the litter she spotted at Daffodil Bay on Saturday, March 30 – an estimated 5 kilometres of book pages, torn out and flung on either side of the road.

“Normally we take time to pick up bottles and cans when we are out there – isolated littering,” she said. “But this was completely different.”

Treweek and her partner, Dave, did as much as they could to gather up pages, taking an hour to fill up the back seat of their car. Treweek returned home to alert the Invercargill City Council – but noted the enormity of the task at hand, and the holiday weekend.

“It was daunting for one or two people – it just went on forever.”

But for Invercargill resident Corey-Ross Kenneally, there was no hesitation in giving up a restful Easter Monday morning to help clean up, even after the perpetrators returned to dump more pages overnight on Saturday.

Kenneally said her flatmate had gone for a morning run along Daffodil Bay on April 1 and returned to rouse her. “Get out of bed – we’re going to clean this up.”

Kenneally posted on the 12,000-member Southland Random Acts of Kindness Facebook page and was joined by a handful of other volunteers who came out to help that morning, picking up pages from a random assortment of books, from teen novels and romance reads, to cookbooks and instruction manuals.

After five hours they had 10 large black rubbish bins “filled to the brim.”

Initially she said there were three volunteers picking up pages – but by the afternoon this had grown to at least 7. While several had responded to the post, she spotted a few people she didn’t recognize, and believed they may have just seen the mess and pulled over to stop and help.

“Amazing,” said Mary Gilbert, one of the four administrators of the Southland Random Acts of Kindness Facebook page. “I saw the post go up and thought ‘watch this happen – the community is going to come together.’

“People could have seen [the litter] and just ignored it and thought ‘oh, the council can just deal with it.’ But it was wonderful to see everyone help out.”

Treweek also credited the volunteers on Easter Monday for cleaning up the bulk of the litter.

“What we did was a small contribution – it took a group to finish the clean-up. It definitely took a few more hands to get it done.”

Invercargill City Council Parks and Recreation Manager Caroline Rain said they had been looking at an estimated 80 to 100 hours of staff time once enough staff had returned from Easter break – until the volunteers came to their aid.

“We are exceptionally grateful to the group who organised themselves through a Facebook post and arranged a clean-up of this area.”