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Closed Landfills - A Learning Story


Once upon a time there was a large storm on the West Coast that opened up an old landfill  along the banks of the Fox River.  An estimated 135,000 kilograms of rubbish was retrieved over 21 kilometres of river and 64km of coastline.

This event highlighted the environmental sleeping giant that is closed landfill sites across  Aotearoa New Zealand.  Many of these were established next to rivers and coastlines and are, or may be, compromised in the future with the increase in more extreme weather events emerging.  With the Essential Freshwater package and the Te Mana o te Wai kaitiakitanga principle of preserving, restoring enhancing and sustaining freshwater for present and future generations, it is becoming extremely important that these sites are identified and managed to avoid such incidents happening in the future.

Banks Peninsula is an important area historically to both Māori and pākehā.  It is a rich mahinga kai area and has a number of wāhi tapu sites.  It is also home to a number of closed landfill sites next to rivers, along the coast, and near mahinga kai and culturally sensitive sites.

What started as a simple pollution incident investigation into a burst leachate pipe below the Ōnuku closed landfill (Takapūneke - a wāhi tapu site), developed into a full review of other closed landfill sites across the Peninsula.  Environment Canterbury has been working closely with the local Council and Rūnanga and planning is well underway to fully remediate these sites, protect the sites from future environmental issues and restore cultural values.

This is the story of that journey.


Wednesday 7th December, 2:15pm


Sarah Helleur
Resource Management Officer - Forestry, Environment Canterbury


I have been with Environment Canterbury since January 2019 as the Resource Management Officer for Forestry across the region, and also as the Resource Management Officer for resource consents on Banks Peninsula.  I have a Bachelor of Forestry Science degree from Canterbury University and have worked in the forestry sector both in the UK and in New Zealand. Since starting with Environment Canterbury I have been involved in a number of areas of CME including closed landfills.


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