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Wendy John: Westfield Local Heroes 2018

Wendy turns polluted creek into something worth fighting for

The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has contributed to the facilitation of a number of activities for The Friends of Oakley Creek including three community tree plantings and working bees for the wider Oakley Creek community.

The Westfield funding has given members of the local community - the general public, local organisations and some of the small ‘Oakley Creek’ groups the opportunity to gain greater awareness and understanding of the importance of protecting our natural environment, and ways in which they can contribute - both on Oakley Creek, and in their own neighbourhoods.

If you walk along Oakley Creek ─ Te Auaunga, you’ll see people running, cycling, doing yoga, holding picnics, watching the birds and playing by the waterfall.

People walk for leisure or as part of their commute, where the forest acts as a natural buffer against the usual city hustle and bustle.

But not too many years ago, Oakley Creek was a polluted, rubbish-strewn and weed-infested city waterway.

There was a proposal for State Highway 20 to be extended through the catchment, which inspired Wendy John and other locals to set up Friends of Oakley Creek in 2004.

“It would’ve been a bulldozer job and people were fighting to stop it,” says Wendy.

But Wendy did not want to focus on fighting the bulldozers, she wanted to do something positive.

“With the highway proposal having been in the pipeline for some 15 years, something had to be done to make Oakley Creek worth saving.”

And that’s what Wendy and the other friends of the creek have achieved.

Wendy coordinates community planting days where locals help maintain the creek by weeding, planting and cleaning up rubbish.

The help Wendy offers doesn’t just protect the creek; the community planting day brings together schools, families and the local community.

Residents and businesses whose properties back onto the area are encouraged to ensure their property maintains the quality of the Oakley Creek environment.

And the good work isn't finished yet. In 2019 Friends of Oakley Creek will have another planting day that will be solely sponsored by Westfield St Lukes.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.

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