'Ghost dive' cleans up Auckland's Okahu Bay

A 'ghost dive' at Auckland's Okahu Bay has helped clean up the ocean by removing masses of rubbish.

The clean-up used divers to retrieve rubbish and 'ghost gear' - like abandoned fishing nets - abandoned in the water.

The team of around 50 divers was led by Ghost Fishing NZ founder Rob Wilson with help from sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, the Auckland University Underwater Club and Ngati Whatua.

"I would be quite happy if it's clean," Wilson says. "To me, the primary goal is bringing people together and getting them involved."

The dive is just one part of a wider transformation of Okahu Bay.  Nearly 100 moored boats have been shifted out of the bay and thousands of mussels have been reseeded in an attempt to re-establish the kaimoana and also clean up the water quality.

"We are a coastal people, so what happens on the land affects what goes into the sea. It's always been a concern of ours to get the health and mauri (life force) of our bay to its original state," says Sharon Hawke of Ngati Whatua Orakei.

"That might not be a goal we achieve in our lifetime, especially with the advent of climate change, but we can't give up."

While much of the rubbish hauled up will go to recycling centres, Ghost Fishing NZ will also make drinking glasses out of some of the bottles. Street cones and shopping trolleys will be water-blasted and returned to organisations which use them.

"A lot of people ask me whether I'm encouraged or discouraged by the amount of rubbish we find," Wilson says.

"The community aspect of it is what makes it so amazing. There are so many people who get involved and are happy to get themselves covered in mud. It really brings people together. It's amazing to see people put their heart and soul into it. It's very powerful."