A waka destined to carry local and international tourists along Christchurch’s Avon River, is now being used to collect rubbish amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has impacted New Zealand’s tourist industry.
Paddlers for the Waka on Avon tourist attraction have now found themselves becoming part-time rubbish collectors.
Each week, 420 litres of waste is collected from the city centre alone.
"We found that there was a lot of need do a lot of pick up rubbish and keeping our awa tidy. We are close to our river culturally and being on the river every day is a bonus," says David Brennan of Waka On Avon.
The 14 kilometre stretch of water has a poor health rating - D, but the city council says it clears rubbish and debris on a regular basis and conducts a removal sweep two or three times a year.
"Two or three times a year is not enough, we need to be doing it more regularly. if we've got any chance of having our waterways swimmable and drinkable we need to be looking after them as a priority, consistently," says Hayley Guglietta - Avon Ōtākaro Network.
The council has indicated it's keen to collaborate with these environmental navigators as they plan to paddle further out to the likes of quake damaged communities.
“What we're going to do is take the waka's further down into the red zones, talk more about that area. more about prevention and looking after our area, our wildlife, our plant life and bringing those into the classroom and teach our young ones,” says Brennan.