OurAuckland chats with a whole team of heroes this month, Friends of Okura Bush, a community group on a mission to restore Okura’s biodiversity.
This group gives conservation a creative flair, running any number of imaginative projects to protect their local habitat.
For the last three years they’ve organised “rat catching” competitions to encourage pest control, with neighbourhood families competing for prizes in the heaviest rat, longest tail and longest hair categories.
The group began Okura’s annual Forest Festival, featuring local artists. This year the festival raised over $17,000 for conservation essentials including weed contractors, traps and legal fees to protect the marine reserve. FOOB, as they’re nicknamed, also run public planting days to encourage the whole community to get out and about.
Last year the group teamed up with Auckland Council and the Department of Conservation to improve the condition of tracks in Okura Bush. They built 300 metres of boardwalk over kauri roots, protecting the trees from the risk of kauri dieback.
Geoffrey Reid, one of the main organisers of the group, is thrilled by the impact they’ve made so far and how the team has inspired the community.
“Back in 2013 when we started out, 12 people attended our first meeting; at our second we had 40 and we’ve just kept going from strength to strength since then,” he says.
“Okura Bush is special; it’s one of the last large stands of established broadleaf and kauri forest in Auckland.
"Seeing the community come together to keep this rare patch of the natural world alive and healthy is inspiring and is what keeps us going.”