Wendy John: Friends of Oakley Creek
Wendy turns polluted creek into something worth fighting for
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.
Wendy says she is humbled to be voted a Westfield Local Hero.
Friends of Oakley Creek will use the $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant to fund community planting days at Oakley Creek. The organisation will also create a trail to help people learn more about the natural environment.