Local Focus: Masterton’s streets kept clean by local hero, Adam Anderson

Adam Anderson has been collecting litter off Masterton’s streets for 20 years.

Local litter-picker Adam Anderson has cleared rubbish from roadsides in Masterton for the last 20 years.

He says some people are really good with their rubbish and appreciate his work, but not all.

“Some people not so much, and some people don’t even think about it,” he said.

“When they see somebody like me doing the job, they’re probably more likely to use a rubbish bin.”


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Adam started voluntarily picking up litter around the CBD more than two decades ago.

It didn’t take long for Masterton District Council to notice his efforts, before hiring him to work from 9am until 4pm each day.

“I get told I do a good job pretty much every day by at least one person – usually multiple people.”

Adam first started because it was something he could do.


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“I’m methodical in how I do it. I come to work, I do my job, and then I go home and I’ll forget about it until I come to work to do it again.

“If I went home and I worried about the litter when I was at home, then that’d probably do my head in, but I don’t do that.”

Adam wasn’t always destined to be Masterton’s star litter-picker.

“I wouldn’t have minded being a commercial fisherman. But that never really worked out. I’m probably too old for that now.”

In his free time, Adam enjoys going to the movies, hiking, fishing and bike riding.

He said he chose rubbish collection because someone had to do it.

“I suppose the biggest challenge is when you pick it up, you go back and there’s more there.

“It doesn’t matter how far and wide you go, or how much you pick up. There’s always going to be more. So that’s the irritating thing.”

Referred to by some as a “local legend”, Adam didn’t want the limelight.

“There are lots of people that are on the street every day, and not all of them get paid.


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“Some of them do some pretty good stuff, and they’re out and about every day.

“So yeah, I suppose so, but I am paid to do my job.”

Among the many unusual things Adam has picked up are full bottles of alcohol, underwear, tools and weapons that people have stashed away.

His busiest periods are during school holidays and on sunny days when locals enjoy eating outside and then forget to clean up after themselves.

“If somebody wasn’t doing the job, I think they’d sort of think, ‘Well, nobody cares’.”

He said people from Masterton should take pride in their town.


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“People visit here and they see rubbish all over the place. It doesn’t look good, and it doesn’t reflect well on the people that live here, so don’t litter.”

Adam is usually praised, though occasionally he gets a different response to keeping Masterton’s streets tidy.

“Sometimes it’s people that are just not happy, or they’re not happy with the council.

“Usually it’s not about me, it’s about something else.

“You might [have] somebody say something or look down their nose at you or whatever, but usually I’ve got my hat on and my sunglasses on and I’m doing my thing, and people; they’re either ignoring me, or telling me I’m doing a good job.”

Public Interest Journalism Fund
Public Interest Journalism Fund

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