Growing up across the road from a native reserve meant that for Wendy John, conservation work has “always been very much a part of who I am.”
It was while she was involved in a community group that Wendy was first introduced to the Oakley Creek catchment area. Running from Mt Roskill to the Waitematā Harbour, Oakley Creek is the longest river in Auckland. “The area was desperately needing some TLC and protection”.
So in 2004, Wendy and some like-minded individuals formed Friends of Oakley Creek and took on the role of guardians. They faced challenges from the beginning – weeds, pest plants and animals, water pollution and rubbish in the creek – "plus the area didn’t have a profile,” says Wendy.
But over the last 12 years, the group has organised community-led monthly working bees that have seen the area go from strength to strength. “We’ve planted around 65,000 native species, and monitor weta, lizards, birds and water quality as well as pests. Now the kererū are back”.
Wendy says, “We all need some connection with nature, and Oakley Creek is a place in the middle of the city where you can go and do that. It’s a little gem really”.
Photo and words: Our Auckland