June and July see people in Whangarei heading off to plant native trees, flaxes, grasses and shrubs on DOC or Regional Council land in an effort to provide better habitation for endangered fauna and flora. I usually make my way to Matakohe Island, a small island sanctuary in the harbour near Onerahi. Matakohe Island provides a predator-free sanctuary for young kiwi, native lizards, and other native birds.
On our first Sunday which was quite cold and showery, there were ten of us planting native flax in a swampy area which would then become a more suitable home to matata or fern birds. They like swampy vegetation. As you can see the matata looks a little like a sparrow and is about that same size although its tail is much longer.
The following Sunday was clear though very cold and there were more than forty of us-–oldies, children and their parents and some younger people including one young fellow who was doing community service. He had been caught with his dog on a DOC track! We left Onerahi in the boat at 9.00 a.m. and returned to the mainland around 1.30 so it is quite a long morning. It is a great community occasion, a type of liturgy.
Before leaving we have to examine our bags and shoes to make sure we are not taking anything dangerous to the island. Argentinian ants are a particular threat, and they are there in Onerahi. We then have to listen carefully to the ranger so we know what to do. We start working–thankfully spades and gloves are provided by Golden Bay Cement. We then share or break bread together at lunch time. There is something liturgical about the whole morning for me.
Our Eucharistic liturgies invite us first of to reflect on the week that has been. Are we carrying anything into our Sunday liturgy that would be better left behind? That moment of reflection allows us to listen more attentively to the Word of God so that we understand what is being asked of us. We break bread together and talk with people some of whom we have not met before. Community is created. And we work together for a greater good. This all reminds me that God's first revelation is through the world created in love for us all.