Poo patrol: Whose mess is it?

For all the human mess left around the district, there are very few consequences for those who make the mess. Should they be reported to the police or council, or both?

A spokesperson for the police said, “'Excreting in public' is an offence under section 32 of the Summary Offences Act… [but] there is a defence under the section if the defendant proves they had reasonable grounds for believing they would not be observed.”

Police also said, “this type of behaviour could be a breach of council by-laws (particularly in relation to freedom campers), so you could contact the relevant local authority.”

But Madeline Patterson, governance and official information advisor for Queenstown Lakes District Council said, “There are no penalties from QLDC specifically relating to defecation, due to such actions primarily being a police matter.”

Data received from QLDC show that over the recent summer period, only three defecation reports were received by council—one each at Frankton Beach, Tucker Beach and Glendhu Bay, but council has no record of whether those reports ended in a court fine being issued.

With police and council pointing the finger at each other to take care of the mess, it’s hard to know who is responsible. For locals who witness someone evacuating their bowels anywhere other than a toilet, police advise, “Any such offending should be reported to police. We would advise against taking a picture or naming/shaming on social media.”

But to be safe, you should probably report it to council too.


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