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Friends of Oakley Creek – Te Auaunga wins Award

Friends of Oakley Creek – Te Auaunga wins Sustainable Urban Communities Award

A dedicated group of volunteers who are restoring Oakley Creek have had their efforts acknowledged with an ARC Sustainable Environment Award.

Oakley Creek, also known as Te Auaunga, is the longest fully urban stream in Auckland, its headwaters are in Hillsborough and it flows through Mt Roskill, Wesley, Owairaka, Mt Albert and Waterview before flowing out into the Waitemata Harbour.

The Friends of Oakley Creek’s vision for the stream its to have the entire creek protected as a natural ecosystem and forming the major part of a wildlife corridor between the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours.

Wendy John, the chairperson and co-ordinator of Friends of Oakley Creek – Te Auaunga says their goal is to see the stream and its environs restored and protected for present and future generations.

“We see the stream as having a whole range of values important to urban communities – ecological, social and recreational.

“Our current management plan is for five years, 2005-2010, but it only covers the lower section of Oakley Creek known as Oakley Creek Walkway, which is where we have been carrying out extensive planting for the last three years.

“What we are aiming for now is to have the management plan extended to cover other areas of the creek and its catchment so that the entire stream can be restored as a natural waterway of benefit to all the communities it passes through and the wider population.”

The ARC initiated the Sustainable Environment Awards to celebrate individuals, groups, schools and businesses in the community who care for our environment and heritage and who work towards a sustainable Auckland region.

There are several different categories, including rural and urban, with Friends of Oakley Creek winning a Sustainable Urban Communities award as a community group that has shown commitment, partnerships and practical action to improve its local urban environment.

However, Friends of Oakley Creek would not have achieved what it has – thousands of native trees, shrubs and wetland species planted along the creek’s lower reaches with a significant improvement in wildlife habitat and water quality – without the assistance of many helping hands.

These have included Gladstone Primary School, Buchanan Rehabilitation Centre, Sustainable Business Network, Unitec student groups, and many other students doing community hours or service such as local scouts, other schools, Department of Justice PD/Community Workers and a range of youth groups.

The Friends of Oakley Creek have also had extensive support from Auckland City Parks, Metrowater, Waicare and local Community Boards.

Wendy John says this is one of the main benefits of environmental groups carrying out programmes such as theirs: “ It gives us all an opportunity to be involved in improving and having a sense of ownership over our local environment, as well as to work together and grow as a community.”

“At the same time there are huge savings to the ratepayers by having most of this work done by volunteers, who are greatly increasing the value of our local environment.”

Friends of Oakley Creek’s Sustainable Urban Communities award is a demonstration of what can be achieved by community groups and organizations resourcefully using volunteer energy alongside local government and community grants to reclaim the role of nature in their urban, suburban, peri-urban and rural environments.

ENDS

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