Avondale residents build community while restoring Te Auaunga – Oakley Creek


Nestled in Avondale is a hidden oasis where Te Auaunga – Oakley Creek crests around and brushes up against ordinary backyards. On its riverbanks, weedy areas have been replanted with natives, and over the last few years, walkers and bike-riders through the Alan Wood Reserve have enjoyed a front seat view of its transformation.

Responsible for this change is the Oakley Loop Group, a small group of friends and neighbours who have adopted this section of the awa. Helen Wadsworth, co-owner of the Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop by day, is a key member. We ask her a few questions.

How did the Oakley Loop Group begin?

I’ve lived here for 20 years, and I’m friends with one of our neighbours Clare, because we met when we had our first kids around the same time. A few years ago, a group of us thought it might be a nice idea to restore this part of the river. We chose the name Oakley Loop Group because the river loops around here, and because we liked how it rhymed. My kids occasionally joined us on our planting days but now that one’s moved out and one’s a teenager, they’re not as involved anymore.

What’s the dream for the Oakley Loop Group?

Five or six years ago this used to be all weeds. Each season we plant a bit more, and it would be great to extend it even further. We’ve bought some possum and rat traps so we occasionally do some trapping as well. It would be amazing to see more birds here. We do see fantails and tūī come through, but we’d love to see more.

What’s the best part about being part of the group?

It’s nice to be connected with your neighbours and it feels good to be working with plants outside in nature and improving the ecology of the area. You feel like you’re contributing something even if it’s only a little bit. We also love the peacefulness and serenity of the area. When we are working down by the creek, it’s almost like the city doesn’t exist.

A few families on our street have come along to our working bees, and we usually have tea and biscuits after each session. So now when we see each other on the street, we wave and say hello, or stop and have a chat.

Who is the Oakley Loop Group for?

Anyone who’s interested can join, really. It would be great to see more people get involved. We’re going to try and do some leaflet drops on our road. We also had signs up about it over on the other side of the river in Alan Wood Reserve, because so many people pass through. I bike through there, and we walk most days along the path. It’s nice to be on the other side of Oakley Creek and look over and be able to see what we’ve done.

If you would like to get involved with the Oakley Loop Group, email [email protected] to hear about future sessions.

The Oakley Loop Group is part of the wider Ngā Ringa o Te Auaunga – Friends of Oakley Creek whānau, whom they work in close collaboration with, and is also supported by the Whau Local Board through the Whau Wildlink and EcoMatters’ Love Your Neighbourhood funding. This story has been created with support from Auckland Council and the Whau Wildlink, a network of groups and individuals working to restore native wildlife and plants in the Whau Local Board area.