Rivers less than ideal for Gisborne paddlers

The sewage contaminated rivers in Gisborne are a less than ideal training ground for the NZ Women's Elite Waka Ama Team. Conditions that could jeopardise their health ahead of the world competition.

The three rivers of Gisborne have turned into a nasty septic tank.

The coach for the Elite Women’s Waka Ama Team, Kiwi Campbell, says, “In the last two years it seems like it's happening quite frequent which is really a huge concern for our community, we've had a breakout of illnesses with regards to the sewage being pumped into the river.”

Despite the dangers of contamination, the women have no other choice but to continue to train on the river if they're to keep on target for the worlds.

“So we just have to take more precautions and make sure we rinse all our gear off, make sure we wash off, no open sores when we hit the water, it’s pretty shocking but the level that we compete at we need to be on the water,” says Campbell.

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon told Te Kāea, “The pipes get blocked and then sewage and fat overflows into the river. That is the problem.”

But the Gisborne Council says the sewage contamination is a problem they're working on.

“The problem is a residential one. It's not the pipes that is the problem but the fat that gets blocked in it. The fat is the main cause of it all,” says Foon.

The council says that it's doing its best to educate its people about not putting fat down the drains.