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The organisation's National IRB Championships were held at Waikouaiti Beach on Saturday and Sunday and residents say coffee cups, plastic bags and other rubbish had to be removed from the beach yesterday.
Waikouaiti resident Lynn Scott said she removed from the beach a carton of rubbish, which appeared to have blown from a pile of rubbish in cartons left near public bins.
"There was a lot of stuff on the beach, particularly coffee cups and plastic stuff which was flying everywhere.''
Other residents had collected more rubbish earlier yesterday, Mrs Scott said.
"You would think the surf life-saving people would have done a recce before they left, or at least taken all the rubbish away with them at the end of the day.''
Surf Life Saving New Zealand event manager Scott Bicknell said the organisation was deeply saddened about the situation and a team of lifeguards was sent to the beach last night to pick up any remaining rubbish.
"Everyone at Surf Life Saving NZ is committed to safe, clean beaches so we're really sorry if our activity has contributed in any way to the beach being impacted with excess rubbish.''
Following the event, volunteers and event staff checked the beach and neighbouring park, picking up any rubbish they found which was then taken away in a trailer, Mr Bicknell said.
As many of the participants made use of the permanent bins during the weekend they may have not left the normal capacity for other beach users, he said.
Dunedin City Council parks and cemetery manager Scott MacLean said the council expected event organisers to collect and dispose of all rubbish, or pay for the rubbish to be removed, from a public facility they had used.
No complaints about the rubbish were received by the council, he said.