Oakley Creek and A Commitment to Place

One of the first A Rocha practical projects in Aotearoa New Zealand was a planting on the banks of Oakley Creek Te Auaunga in 2007 in partnership with Friends of Oakley Creek. Over a decade later A Rocha in Auckland continues to be involved in this community-run project – organising working-bees three times a year to do planting, weeding and caring for what Auckland City Council classes a Significant Ecological Area. Sarah Woodfield lives in close proximity to Oakley Creek and reflects on the ups and downs of practical community conservation.

Sarah Woodfield (pictured above):

“I live about two minutes’ walk from Oakley Creek Te Auaunga and have a deep love for this place and the community in which I live. Nevertheless, the most recent working-bee felt like hard work to organise. As the weekend approached, the weather was looking marginal. Earlier in the week, walking up my street delivering flyers advertising the event, I’d questioned the effectiveness of what I was doing. Darkness was falling, I was tired, and I wondered if anyone would actually come as a result of the flyers I deliver. On the Friday it looked as though there may be as few as four people attending and I pondered what I’d do with the leftovers I was convinced would remain from the lunch I was preparing for the following day.

“And then… On the Saturday the weather was glorious, we had fifteen people come, and we got heaps of work done! One person who attended was a neighbour of mine who came because of the flyer they’d received. I was so encouraged! God is faithful even when I was discouraged and doubtful. And, best of all… all the food was eaten.

“I live with a friend who is unwell and therefore unable to visit the creek very often. Yet every day we see a range of native birds in our garden who are drawn by the regenerating bush habitat in the creek. It’s exciting to experience the positive impact of the decade-long restoration work and I’m becoming aware that living faithfully in ways that bring flourishing to all creation requires a commitment on my part…. Doing necessary and unglamorous tasks, even if I don’t feel like it.”

The restoration efforts of this community project were recognised recently when they were named as one of three finalists in this year’s River Stories category of the New Zealand River Awards run by Cawthron Foundation – a category to mark the most interesting and compelling story of a person or group working to improve the health of a river. Click here to read more about this recognition.

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