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One man, one newspaper, one school ... and a whole community. It's amazing what you humans can do when you all come together. On Saturday September 3, Nathan Pettigrew went to Moturiki Island (Mount Maunganui, New Zealand) to look for a leopard seal. Instead, he found rubbish, beer bottles and fishing line everywhere.

"I'm tired of seeing it," he told Little Peppe & Friends. "There was rubbish just strewn everywhere. There's a group of guys who go fishing there, and they don't care – they just don't care. They just chuck their bottles down and leave them there, along with fishing line and plastic bags.

"New Zealand is a pretty beautiful place, and I think we set a precedent for what a country should be like in terms of some environmental issues. So to see it like this … it's a little bit of a let-down for me."

Nathan says the penguins who call Moturiki home come up and rock hop from rock to rock to get into their burrows.

"If there's fishing line everywhere, they're going to get caught up in it, and they do get caught up in it. There was a penguin caught recently who died."

That penguin was Cody, a little blue penguin who lived on Mauao. Ferhad Junior cried when he read the story a while ago. Our youngest giraffe demonstrates how easy it is for old fishing line and ropes to leave an animal hopelessly tangled. (Ferhad Junior is about the same size as a blue penguin).

Nathan says it's not just penguins who get caught in it. "I photographed an oyster catcher on Matakana Island who could only fly, it couldn't walk. It kept tripping over itself because it was so wrapped up in fishing line. It's heart-breaking.

"And the stupid thing is, there's no need for it. There are bins all around here. There's no excuse not to put rubbish in the bins. Take it with you – you brought it in – it's lighter on the way out, if you're drinking cans of beer and whatever."

Nathan is quite well known around Tauranga and online as he films marine life on the water. “I kayak with orcas, sharks, dolphins, and rays.”

He kayaked with orcas four times in July, as well as a southern right whale, and two Bryde's whale (pronounced “broo-dess”).

“I'm lucky, I have a special permit that allows me to do that and film them. In return, I talk to schools and do presentations about the importance of looking after them.”

Nathan contacted the Bay of Plenty Times, who ran a story about the mess on Moturiki Island on Tuesday September 6. At the bottom of the article they printed a call for help:

Rubbish clean up of Moturiki Island

When: Sunday, September 11, 9am
Where: Moturiki Island, Mount Maunganui
Who: Anyone
Why: To help clean up the area of rubbish dumped
What to bring: Bags to collect rubbish in, gloves, suitable footwear.

WHAT A RESPONSE FROM HUMANS!!! And especially this TOTES AMAZEBALLS RESPONSE from Greenpark School. Not only did it lead to the Bay of Plenty Times running another story about Moturiki Island , but the kids also did a cool video.

It's clear, when Rebek talks to Ben Brock from Greenpark School, what Nathan means to the little humans.

"We've worked with Nathan for a few years. He's comes into the school and shows the kids videos and photos of the marine life around here, so he's a bit of a hero to the kids, they think he's amazing. They're very excited to meet him when he comes to the school, and always gets asked for his autograph. When he puts out a cry for help, the kids want to get there and help."

And help they did. We headed to the Mount to join this fierce young army of little humans and their accompanying grown-ups. What a troop of little wildlife warriors! These are just some of the GOOD HUMANS who dedicated their Sunday morning to helping the planet and the animals.

(LEFT) Rebek and Ferhad Junior with Moturiki Island Clean Up Day organiser Nathan Pettigrew.
(MIDDLE LEFT) Ferhad Junior with Tamihana and Tia.
(MIDDLE RIGHT) Ferhad Junior with Cayden.
(RIGHT) Rebek and Ferhad Junior with Tim and Rob.

(LEFT) Little Peppe with Savana, Ferhad Junior with Dylan, and Rebek with Azaria.
(MIDDLE) The Hand of Dylan and mountain goat Azaria as they risk their lives - RISK THEIR LIVES - to clean up after messy grown-ups who SHOULD KNOW BETTER!!!
(RIGHT) Ryan with Dover, Rebek with Sheree, Little Peppe with Luke, and Ferhad Junior with Craig. FJ asked Little Peppe if he could club Craig with his hooves "just a little bit" so Ferhad Junior could steal Craig's awesome T-shirt. We hope he was joking! Naughty little giraffe - as if he doesn't have enough T-shirts already.

(LEFT) Ferhad Junior and Rebek with the Lim Family - high fives Lims!!!!
(MIDDLE) Ferhad Junior with Amy and George.
(RIGHT) Rebek with Bayleigh, Ferhad Junior with Maddison, Dover with Madison, and Little Peppe with Ayla.

(LEFT) Rebek with Freya and Ferhad Junior with Jess from Dive Zone Tauranga (thanx to all the divers).
(MIDDLE) Ferhad Junior with Trish Valois, Rebek with Stephanie Harris, and Little Peppe with Ben Brock - all teachers at Greenpark School.
(RIGHT) Ferhad Junior with Mackenzie from Bethlehem College .

We didn't just talk to the humans: we got our hooves and paws dirty as well. Little Peppe demonstrates how closely you have to look between the rocks to find dangerous rubbish. In the photo on the left you can't see any rubbish at a glance. In the middle, as Little Peppe takes a closer look, you can see what appears to be a plastic spoon and lid. And on the right you can see what he found when he really got down there - a nasty fishing line, and an even nastier hook. BAD HUMANS!


This could easily be a penguin's burrow. How would you like it if a giant bird came along and dumped rubbish in your house? Or put a giant boulder across your door so you couldn't get into your house, or even worse, get out. That's what it can be like for the penguins.

"The fisherman jam their empty beer bottles and cans in between the rocks" says Nathan. "The penguins then can't get into their burrows - or can't get out."

If they can't get in, they have to look for another home. And penguin real estate on Moturiki Island is the same as human real estate in the rest of Tauranga and Mount Maunganui - it's rare, and you have to fight for it. And if the penguin gets trapped in its house, it will die of starvation - DIE OF STARVATION! Think before you stash your drink.

Most of the rubbish that can kill an animal is SO EASY for humans to dispose of ... like this piece of paper and red bottle cap (LEFT). But be careful! The stuff in the middle that looks like human waste ... is actually leopard seal poop!
Our human had a huge argument with Ferhad Junior - he wanted to bring it home and keep it. He was about to go full blow GIRAFFE NUTS when he was distracted by a sad sight - the body of a bird that a human had found. Ferhad Junior forgot about the poop, and went to say a few words for the spirit of the dead bird.

Little Peppe checks out some of the waste rubbish the humans collected (LEFT), while Ferhad Junior (see his hooves?) was horrified by the amount of old mesh rope Mackenzie collected. Imagine how many penguins that could murder!!!

On the right you can see some of the divers who looked for stuff in the water. And, sadly, they found lots. Good on you humans, cleaning up after other humans in the water at the tail end of winter. The sun was quite warm today - the water? Not so much. Brrrrrrrr. That's dedication.

What did Nathan think of the turnout of humans?

"It's been amazing and incredible. There's a lot more rubbish here than I thought, so it's fantastic, and really, really cool stories as well. People have come from all over to help out, so it's not so much about the amount of rubbish as it is about people coming together – that's the key thing. It's about bringing about that awareness for what needs to be done, which is getting the rubbish off the beaches and out of the water."


More information about Nathan Pettigrew

The Kayaking World of Nathan Pettigrew - Nathan's YouTube channel
UNO Magazine interview
The Daily Mail (U.K.) story on Nathan
The Dodo story about Nathan
Nathan's Facebook page

More information about Greenpark School

Greenpark School's Facebook page
Greenpark School's website

Thank you to all the big humans who gave us permission to put photos of their little humans on this page.

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