VisionWest Horticulture Students—12 February 2013
The VisionWest Community Trust have become good friends of CUE Haven and since November 2011 they have been bringing groups of horticulture students out for a day as part of their field work experience.
The mission of the VisionWest Community Trust is “Building Hope Together,” and it provides a variety of social service programs for the west Auckland community. Additionally, the Trust operates a training centre which provides a holistic approach to training by integrating class work, work experience and opportunities for students to discover individual talents.
The training centre includes a horticulture school where students learn valuable skills to prepare them for a career in a wide range of horticultural fields and today we were very happy to have a group of students out to CUE Haven as part of their field work experience.
The team arrived just after ten and included tutors Joan, Kevin and Peter and students Alex M., Alex S., Bruce, Edward, Josephine, Justin, Susan, Talagi, Terry, and Tony.
After introductions, we had morning tea and then we provided an overview of the CUE Haven project, a description of the work planned for the day and a safety briefing.
In the past, the VisionWest students have helped with planting and weeding, but today they did some new and different tasks.
There are two areas of mature native bush on the CUE Haven property and this time of year, many of the trees are producing seeds which we can propagate in the nursery. The first task for the day was to walk through the bush and harvest seeds.
The group would be working around mature kauri trees, and we are concerned about kauri dieback disease. Accordingly before entering the mature bush, we asked the team to disinfect their footgear with Trigene, generously provided by the Auckland Council Biosecurity department.
Once that was done we hiked up to the mature bush area.
Our ecologist believes that the oldest trees in this area are around 150 years old and there are some beautiful specimens of puriri, kauri, kahikatea, taraire, karaka, rata and nikau.
Collecting seeds involves finding a mature specimen and looking through the material on the forest floor for seeds that have fallen. It can be a bit of a challenge because the bush is so dense.
Once we had collected a good supply of karaka, taraire, puriri and nikau seeds, the team moved on to the next task.
Last week we started building a walking track around one of the ponds and today the team continued work on it. They installed footer posts for a boardwalk, finished off and installed some steps, and put in a culvert sump.
Once the cement has dried and the posts are firm, we will cut off the tops and build the bridge frame around them.
While one part of the team worked on the posts, the rest of the team worked on finishing off steps. This part of the work gave the tutors a chance to demonstrate track building techniques and drainage issues and planning.
Finishing off the steps required hard work and lots of team work.
The team also demonstrated how innovative they are. Tom had forgotten the spirit level so to make sure they got the steps risers straight, they improvised a spirit level with a Nestea drink bottle.
Nestle NZ had generously provided drink bottles and Nestea Iced Peach Tea so the students could have cold drinks in the field. Thanks Nestle!
It was very hot and sunny but the group worked hard and made good progress on the track. We then broke for a late lunch.
Before they left, the team sorted out the seeds by type and will take them back to their nursery to plant and grow.
This was the fourth VisionWest team we’ve had out to CUE Haven and we were again very impressed by the group. The team was enthusiastic and energetic and we enjoyed working with them. It was a pleasure to see the way they worked together as a team. We find that when VisionWest brings the students for a field trip to CUE Haven, we are students for a day as well because we have an opportunity to learn so much from the very knowledgeable tutors. Thanks Joan, Kevin and Peter for sharing your knowledge and for your interest in our project.
And our many thanks to the students for all their efforts. Your work on the track is a major contribution to CUE Haven that will be enjoyed by visitors for many years to come. We wish you the best of luck with your studies and future endeavours. We look forward to having you all back at CUE Haven.