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Green ‘S’ Force Planting Day—26 July 2014

July 27, 2014

Our 2014 planting season finished off today with a great effort by our friends from the Green ‘S’ Force.  This year they planted even more trees than their amazing accomplishment last year.

Today’s team included Aman, Bharpoor, Harinder, Jagdeep, Jagveer, Karamjeet, Karan, Lakhvinder, Meenu, Navneet, Nisha, Parminder, Prabhjot, Raj, Ranjit, Samandeep, Simar, Simerjeet, Suhas, Veerpal and Vinod.  Because of work and other commitments, some people came later and some had to leave earlier.

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As the group arrived, we had morning tea.

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The first task was to get the plants up to the planting site and as Tom is still out of commission–

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Bharpoor took charge of driving the ute and making sure the team was well supplied with plants over the course of the day.

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At the planting site the team unloaded the trays and laid out the plants before going to work.

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Today’s planting objective was to finish off the rather challenging area we’ve been working in this winter.  The terrain varied from flat and clear to steep and weed covered but the team handled the challenges with no problems.

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As always, the hard working team took their tea breaks in the field.

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And shortly before lunch, Bharpoor reported the good news that he was delivering the last of the trees to be planted!

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And the team finished off the last of the planting.

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The group then broke for lunch.

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After lunch the team went back to the field to pick up the empty pots and trays and to mark the plants with a stake so that we can find them this summer during our weed control efforts.

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For the second year in a row, thanks to the efforts of the Green ‘S’ Force we have achieved our planting goal for the year.  This year’s planting area was one of the most challenging on the property as the team had to cope with steep, slippery conditions and tall weeds in pasture that has been rank for several years.  But there was nowhere the team was afraid to go and thanks to all their hard work they have transformed the property.  Here are some views of their work.

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We wish to convey our heartfelt thanks to all the members of the Green ‘S’ Force for their help again this year. We really value our relationship and friendship with you all and are truly grateful for all your hard work and dedication. The trees you have planted will provide many benefits – less soil erosion, improved water quality, increase in biodiversity and a wonderful nature reserve for the community to enjoy for many, many years. THANK YOU!

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The weather had been great all day but there was a brief shower as the team was finishing up and we think it’s a good omen that a beautiful rainbow appeared over the area that Green ‘S’ Force members will help us transform into native bush next year!

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Thanks again!!

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Murrays Bay Intermediate School–24 July 2014

July 25, 2014

Today a group of twenty-six students from Murrays Bay Intermediate School in Auckland came out for a day of planting and learning.  This is the fourth time sustainability teacher David Walker has brought out a group of students and it was great to see some familiar faces and meet some new students as well.

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Also joining us were teachers Mrs. Jung-Hee Kwan and Alison Lamb from Murrays Bay Intermediate;  Shelly Hackett and Sophie Tweedle, Auckland Council’s Waicare educators and Morag Vasilaki, Auckland Council’s Environmental Sustainability educator.

The students arrived at ten and we started off with morning tea. Nestle NZ had generously supplied hot chocolate for the young students and it was much appreciated by all on a cold winter morning.

Mahrukh then gave a quick overview of the CUE Haven project for the benefit of the new students and description of the plan for the day.

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Because the students would be in the field planting Tom gave an explanation of the planting process and a safety briefing.

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We had previously taken up the plants and equipment to the planting site and the group made a short hike up to the site.  On the way, they passed an area that Murrays Bay students had planted last year and David showed them how the plants had grown and also talked about different kinds of weeds that grow up in planting sites and how some weeds are very harmful but some can actually be beneficial for the small trees because they provide shelter from the sun and wind.

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Once they got to the site, the group went to work.  The students worked in teams with one person digging while the other person planted and then swapped tasks mid way through the morning.

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While digging in the moist soil the students found plenty of worms!

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It was perfect weather for planting everyone enjoyed being out and getting dirty.

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In under an hour the students planted over 100 trees  – a fantastic effort!!   And when they were finished they picked up all the pots and trays and cleaned the equipment.

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And then they went down to get cleaned up for lunch.

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And enjoyed a stretchy dessert!

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The after lunch activities were a WaiCare session with Shelley and Sophie and a sustainability session with Morag.  David divided the students into two groups which would alternate doing the two activities so that everyone had a chance to do both.

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Shelley and Sophie had previously collected water samples from two areas in the streams at CUE Haven and set up their presentation in the nursery.  They started with a discussion about the importance of water care and how farming practices and human activity can affect water quality.

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The students learnt how to test water quality and participated in testing the water samples for temperature, pH levels, dissolved oxygen and clarity.  Shelly and Sophie explained why each of those factors is important to water quality and maintaining healthy waterways.

Shelley’s water sample had been collected from a sheltered pool in the mid catchment while Sophie had collected the water sample from the pond downstream, so the students had the opportunity to compare results from the different sites and discuss how the shade provided by the trees we have been planting was affecting the water quality.

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The water samples collected had some vegetation, which is a habitat for pond creatures, known as macroinvertebrates, that live in them.

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Shelly and Sophie showed charts describing the creatures they might see and the students used the charts and magnifying glasses to see what they could identify.

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Morag had prepared a programme for the students that traced the environmental history of New Zealand from the time the first people arrived.  She started with a timeline going back to 1000 AD.

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Next she showed the major milestones of human habitation in New Zealand and also described the creatures that arrived along with the humans.  She showed maps of how the arrival of introduced species took its toll on the plant and animal life in New Zealand.

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She also talked about indigenous animals that have become extinct because of predators and had the students determine when and why those extinctions happened.

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Once the students had a perspective of the impact of humans and other introduced species, Morag asked them to come up with ideas about what they can do to protect endangered native wildlife.

When both groups of students had done both activities it was time to head back to town.

We want to thank David for organising today’s visit and for his continued interest and support of the CUE Haven project.  It’s always a pleasure to have Murrays Bay Intermediate students out!  And thank you to Mrs. Kwan and Alison for coming along to help out.

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And many thanks to Morag, Shelley and Sophie for their wonderful presentations and we’d also like to thank Auckland Council for enabling the visits of their educators and their support of our efforts to make CUE Haven a place for learning.

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And most of all we’d like to thank the Murrays Bay students.  Thank you very much for your efforts with the tree planting – you have made a major contribution to our planet.  We really enjoyed having you out and hope you had a fun educational day.  We look forward to having you back out with your family and friends so you can see how your trees are growing.

Thanks again!

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Duke of Edinburgh/Hillary Award Residential—14-18 July 2014

July 19, 2014

This week we had another very successful Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award gold residential at CUE Haven.

The team arrived on Monday and included Alana, Caitlin, Cherry, Chrissy, Emma James, Jacqueline, Kalym, Mette, Praveen, Sean, Sylvia, Tony and Zoe.  Zoe was the team leader.  We had two milestones with this group—it was the largest team we’ve had to date and also was the first time we’ve had DoEHA participants from the South Island.

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The group got acquainted over morning tea and then we gave them an overview of the CUE Haven project and a safety briefing.

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Andy Woodhouse, Co-Director of Training and Development for the DoEHA programme welcomed the participants and gave them an overview of the plan for the week.

Our friends Kevin, Dayna and Matt were also on site for all or part of the week to help out.

The group worked on a variety of tasks—tree planting, track building, artwork and carpentry.  After a tour of the property and lunch, the team went to work on the first job.  Throughout the week, participants moved among groups so that everyone had a chance to work on each task.

Tree Planting

Winter is planting season and this team continued with planting out the Grove.  There are still some areas where initial planting needs to be done and the group spent part of three days working on filling them in.

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They planted over 500 manuka, kanuka, karamu and cabbage trees in very challenging conditions, and a special thank you to Sean, Tony and Zoe who worked extra hard planting in steep and challenging conditions.

The new trees are a great addition to the Grove and the CUE Haven forest.

Walking Track Railing

The walking track at the top entrance to the DoEHA Grove is quite steep at the start and there are several steps going down to the hut.  A long term objective is to make the area around the hut an area for visitors to relax and enjoy the views so we want to make it easy for everyone to walk down.  The team built a hand rail along the steepest part of the steps.

We had ordered the timber and materials and they were delivered on Monday before the team arrived.

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The first task was to get all the materials up to the work site.

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We drove up as far as we could but then had to carry everything down to the track by hand.

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Kevin helped the team study the track and decide where to put the supporting posts for the handrail.  It was necessary to clear away vegetation before the holes could be dug.

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The group then took turns digging the post holes.

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The post timber was cut to even lengths and each post was test fitted in the hole.

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We then mixed the cement to hold the posts in place securely.

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The concrete was poured around each post and a spirit level was used to make sure the posts were uniformly straight.

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The cement was allowed to harden overnight and the next morning it was time to install the top railings.  This involved determining the required length of each rail, cutting the post to the required height and cutting a notch in the post to hold the rail in place.

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Once all the posts were cut and notched, it was time to install the railings by fitting and nailing them in place.

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The handrail turned out very well and it will be used and appreciated by visitors for years to come.  The team should be proud of their efforts!

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Hut Landscaping and Chessboard

When CUE Haven was a farm, there was a concrete water tank in what is now the DoEHA Grove.  Earlier residential teams decided to turn the water tank into a rest hut and painted it and put a roof on it.  A DoEHA patron also sponsored a bench which was installed next to the hut last year.

Behind the hut there is a disused concrete water trough and the team decided that it would be nice to clean up the area around the hut and to use the trough as a platform for a chess board sculpture.

This is a view of the area in early 2013 before the hut was finished showing the layout of the hut and the trough.

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The first task the team tackled was to clear the area and box off an area where visitors will be able to relax and enjoy the views.

They marked out the area and first relocated any trees that had been planted in the area.

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They then levelled the area, cleared out the weeds and grass and built a small retaining wall around it.

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Once the retaining wall was finished, the team filled in the area with gravel brought down from the top of the track to create a nice surface.

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The end result is an amazing improvement!

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While part of the team were working on the clearing and organising the area by the hut, some of the other team members were building the chess board and pieces.  The plan was to make the board out of a slab of concrete and the chess pieces would be cut out of plywood, fixed in concrete bases and painted.

The first task was to build a box for the board.

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And other team members cut out rings which would be the moulds for the concrete bases of the chess pieces.

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They then mixed up the concrete for the board and the bases.

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And poured and smoothed the concrete in the board.

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Once the concrete had hardened a bit, a jig was made to imprint shading into the concrete to denote the black squares.

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In the meantime, the Cherry, Dayna and Sylvia went to work designing and drawing the chess pieces.

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And then the pieces were cut out with a jigsaw.

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With truly impressive results!

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Cherry, Sylvia and Dayna painted the pieces black and white.

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Dayna suggested decorating each piece with a unique design and generously brought along her colour paints for the task.

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Several other team members helped set the pieces in concrete using the rings that had previously been cut out.

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And the participants discovered artistic talents they didn’t know they had!!

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The team was very creative, painting native birds and other interesting scenes on the pieces.

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And they didn’t always restrict their painting efforts to the chess pieces!

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The next morning the paint and cement had dried.  The first task was to remove the ring moulds and clean up the pieces.

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And then came the interesting challenge of transporting the board and pieces from the nursery up to the DoEHA Grove.  The team lifted the board and placed it in the back of the ute.

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We then drove it up—very slowly.  We parked the ute as close to the site as possible and carried the board down and put it in place.

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And set up the pieces.

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The chessboard is an amazing accomplishment and is this team’s unique contribution to the DoEHA Grove.  Future teams will make storage boxes for the chess pieces and benches to sit on.  And maybe play a game or two!

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New Walking Track

As a result of the improvements in the area around the hut and after giving consideration for future plans for developing the Grove, the team decided that another walking track to provide easier access to the hut would be desirable.  They chose a route that would come down from one of the roads that borders the Grove and the team decided to put in a series of switchbacks so that in the future, visitors who might not be able to walk up and down steps would still be able to access the grove.

It was challenging track work because the ground had not been prepared.  As a result the team not only had to relocate some trees, they also had to cut through weeds and vegetation to clear the path.

The route was marked out using stakes and the team cleared the track from the hut area up to the road.

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The 35 metre track will be used by visitors for many years to come and is an excellent addition to the CUE Haven infrastructure as it now gives an easier access to the DoEHA Grove and provides visitors with additional options for exploring the property.

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Additional Tasks

In addition to the major projects we accomplished, the hard working team also did some maintenance work that will have long term benefits.

Back in January, a DoEHA residential group had built a chair which was temporarily installed along the walking track in a place where visitors could both take a rest and enjoy views of the Kaipara Harbour.

This week they fastened the chair in place so that it wouldn’t move and the team also built a platform around it so that visitors could easily and safely access it.

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Last year a team started a mosaic of the DoEHA logo at one end of the Grove.  The mosaic is largely complete and has generated a lot of interest from visitors since it was put in.  The plan is to finish it off with a brick border and the team worked to clear the area around the mosaic and dig a foundation for the brickwork which will be done by a future team.

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Finally, when CUE Haven was a farm, old bathtubs were used as water troughs for the stock.  Several of the tubs are still around and some of the team members thought it would be interesting to do something artistic with one of them.

They brought the tub down and spent some time brainstorming.

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They decided to paint it with a mural and install it as a painting/sculpture along the new walking track.  Unfortunately, they didn’t get a chance to finish the work, but did clean it and paint a first coat and a future team will take over the project and get the tub installed in the Grove.

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The team worked hard all week and accomplished an amazing amount of work but they also took some time to relax and enjoy each other’s company.

Also, during the week, the team enjoyed Nestle Iced Tea and Nescafe Menu coffees generously provided by Nestle New Zealand who also provided each team member with a water bottle for use in the field.  Thanks Nestle!

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We really enjoyed working with this team and were impressed by how well they got along and worked together.

A big thank you to Zoe for being an excellent team leader. Her great leadership style helped bring the team together and assisted in making this a very successful and fun week.  Thanks, Zoe! We look forward to having you back to lead another DoEHA residential at CUE Haven.

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And many thanks to Kevin, Dayna and Matt.  Matt took half a day off work and Kevin and Dayna gave up part of their school holidays to help out most of this week. We really appreciate your time, talent and contribution and very much look forward to having you back. Thank You!

We also want to say a big thank you to Andy Woodhouse, DoEHA Co-Director of Training and Development for his enthusiasm, creative ideas and continued support. Also as Tom is still out of action due to a broken leg, Andy freed up his schedule this week and was on site each day to work with the team and provide invaluable help and guidance.  Thanks Andy!

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And most of all we want to thank the great team of gold award participants.  They quickly came together as a team and everyone was a major contributor both to the success of the week as well as to the DoEHA Grove.

Your tree planting, track work and artistic efforts this week will be appreciated and enjoyed by the many visitors to CUE Haven for many years to come. THANK YOU!

We wish you all much happiness and success in the future. We would be thrilled to have you return to lead a DoEHA gold residential!! And do come back to CUE Haven with your family and friends to see how things are progressing and to play a game of chess. THANKS AGAIN!!

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Green ‘S’ Force Planting Day—5 July 2014

July 6, 2014

Today the Green ‘S’ Force team were back at CUE Haven in full force for a great day of planting.  Twenty-six members, including several new members joined us.

The group included Aman, Ankush, Bharpoor, Guneet, Harinder, Jagdeep, Jagveer, Karan, Karamjit, Mandeep, Meenu, Narinder, Navjot, Navneet, Nitash, Paramjot, Prabhjat, Raj, Ranjit, Ritu, Samandeep, Simarjeet, Simarpreet, Suhas, Sukhwinder, and Veerpal.

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Some of the team members live in the city and they arrived a little earlier than the group driving up from Manurewa, an hour farther away. So while waiting for the remainder of the team to arrive, Mahrukh took the early birds on a walk around the recently completed wetlands boardwalk.

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After morning tea the team went to work. As Tom is still out of action, the first task was to load up the truck and take the plants up to the planting site.

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This week the group continued working on the steep gully.  This is the most difficult planting we have done so far as the ground is steep and uneven and the dead grass is very long.  Nevertheless, the group coped very well and planted a huge number of trees before the end of the day.

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On particularly steep sections, the team used a human chain to get the plants from the road to the planting site.

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And this gives you some idea of the conditions the team had to deal with.

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The hard working team took their midday tea break in the field.

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And after several hours of planting, they had a late lunch.

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After lunch, the team returned to the planting site and moved through the site and put a stake by each plant.  This enabled them to identify any gaps in the planting and will also help us this summer when we do weed control.

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The last task was to pick up all the trays and pots.

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After returning they emptied the truck and cleaned the equipment.

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A big thank you to Bharpoor, Ranjit and Jagdeep for keeping the team well stocked with plants.

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And our heartfelt thanks to all the team members.  As always, it is really wonderful having you over and we enjoy working with you. We really appreciate your enthusiasm and all your hard work.  We look forward to seeing you all again for the last planting of the season.

Many thanks!!!

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Green ‘S’ Force Planting Days—28-29 June 2014

June 30, 2014

This weekend the Green ‘S’ Force was back at CUE Haven for two days of planting.  This is the third time this year we’ve had a Green ‘S’ Force out and as always we enjoyed working with them and they made a major contribution to our restoration project.

Because the Green ‘S’ Force is a volunteer, organisation, all of its members are students or work during the week and they spend their weekends doing community work.  Depending on their schedules, some of the group came on Saturday or Sunday or both days.

The group included Ankush, Bharpoor, Guneet, Harinder, Husandeep, Jagdeep, Karan, Karmjit, Meenu, Narinder, Navjot, Navneet, Nitash, Paramjot, Pooja, Raj, Ranjit, Satwant, and Vishu.

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We started each day with morning tea and discussion of the work plan for the day.

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We then went to work.

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The area where we were planting was one of the most challenging areas on the property.  It is a big gully and although we had prepped the site by spraying all the grass, the gully is too steep to mow and as a result, in addition to steep terrain the team also had to contend with tall grass.

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In spite of the conditions, the group coped very well and by the end of Sunday they managed to plant almost half way down the gully.

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The group really rose to the challenge and we appreciate all their hard work in the difficult planting conditions.

There was one casualty, however.  On Saturday while carrying a tray of plants Tom lost his balance and sat down on his leg and cracked his fibula in two places.

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Fortunately, Bharpoor was able to come on Sunday so in addition to planting, he also drove the ute and kept the team well stocked with trees. Thanks, Bharpoor!

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As always, we had a great time working with the team and they accomplished a huge amount of planting in two short days.

Thank you all so very much for your hard work and enthusiasm and we look forward to seeing you again to finish off the 2014 planting!

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Chinese Community Youth Group—21 June 2014

June 22, 2014

Last month, we had a great planting day with some members of the Overseas Chinese Association New Zealand chapter.  One of the Association members who was present that day, Lawden Chow, arranged to bring out a group of younger people from the Chinese community to help out today.

The group arrived at ten and included Amanda, Emma, Eva, Jocelyn, Jordan, Ronald, Raymond, Sooi and Tuck Chung.   Also joining us were Lawden and Lauren who had come out with the group in May.

We got acquainted over morning tea.

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Mahrukh then gave a welcome and overview of the CUE Haven project and Tom gave a safety briefing and we discussed the plan for the day.

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The original plan was for the group to plant trees in an area of the property that would have required us to carry the plants along the gully walking track to get to the planting site.  Last week we had a huge rain and windstorm and the track had become very muddy.   Some steps up from the gully were particularly hazardous because mud had washed over the track from the adjacent bank.  As a result, we asked the group if instead of planting they would help us refurbish the track – and they cheerfully agreed!

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We got up to the work site and broke into teams.  One team tackled the steps.  The first task was to dig out the mud and get back to the original track surface.

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The team decided that the path down the slope would be easier if they put in some additional steps, so they cut them into the track.

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Here you can see the new steps taking shape.

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The next task was to frame up the steps.  The team also decided to build a retaining wall against the side of the bank to minimise the effect of any future heavy rains.

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While one team was working on the steps, the rest of the group spread out along the track and fixed other problem areas.   This involved digging out and smoothing uneven areas and improving the benching that had eroded.

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Once the digging and reshaping had been done, the last task was to restore the metal layer to make the track safe year round.  Some of the team filled buckets with metal and we carried them to the parts of the track where they were needed.

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The team also took the opportunity to do a general clean up on the track.  We are always happy to see new trees self-seeding but we don’t want them on the track, so the team transplanted a number of seedlings into the bush and out of harm’s way.

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And they also trimmed back some of the overhanging vegetation.

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In just a few hours the team managed to make the track much safer and easier to use.  We were amazed at how much they accomplished in a short amount of time.  We then broke for a well deserved lunch.

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After lunch we went for a tour of the property.

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And walked back down via the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award (DoEHA) Grove and the gully walking track.  Several of the team members are DoEHA alumni and they were interested in seeing the work of the residential teams.

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Most of today’s group are keen trampers and they made several suggestions for future improvements to the track and we look forward to having them back to work on them!

We want to thank Lawden for organising the day and arranging for the group to come out.  We’d also like to thank Lauren for coming out for a second time and helping out.

And a very big thank you to everyone of the hard working team.  We really enjoyed meeting you and working with you.  You have made a major contribution to the CUE Haven project.  Your work on the track today has made it safer for future visitors and your efforts will be enjoyed and appreciated by them for many years to come.

We wish you all the best in your future endeavours and we hope you will come back to see us again.  Thanks again!!

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Ficino School—17 June 2014

June 18, 2014

Today a group of very enthusiastic Year Five and Six students from Ficino School in Auckland visited CUE Haven.  We planted trees and Auckland Council WaiCare and WasteWise professionals got the students involved in hands on environmental learning.

The group arrived at ten and included nineteen students and teachers Ashley Leathley and Clare Watkins, and parents Carrene, Delia and Katrina.

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We got acquainted over morning tea.  Nestle NZ had generously provided hot chocolate and Iced Peach Nestea and the drinks were much appreciated by the students.  Thanks Nestle!

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Mahrukh gave the students a short overview of the CUE Haven project and the plan for the day.  Tom then gave a safety briefing.

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The plan was to do some tree planting until lunch time.  After lunch we would break into two groups and each group would alternate between the water and waste programmes.

We took a short walk up to the planting site where Tom gave a planting demo and then the students went to work.

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The weather alternated between sunny, windy and light showers but the students coped well and in about an hour planted 202 trees.  A fantastic effort!

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When the planting was finished the students went through the area picking up the pots.

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And nicely cleaned off their spades.

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We then walked back down and got cleaned up for lunch.

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Shelley Hackett of Auckland Council’s WaiCare programme and Tori Christie of the Wastewise programme were on site for presentations to the students.  After lunch, half the students attended Shelley’s WaiCare session while the other half attended Tori’s WasteWise presentation.  Each group then switched so that all students saw both presentations.

Shelley started her presentation by talking about the importance of water and wetlands and explained to the students how their tree planting efforts would have a positive effect on the water quality at CUE Haven and ultimately the Kaipara Harbour.

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Shelley had previously collected samples of water from the CUE Haven stream and talked about the macroinvertebrates that live in the ponds and streams and described how water quality affects them.

The students then did experiments to test the water clarity and oxygen content.

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Shelley had a field identification guide for macroinvertebrates and the students all had an opportunity to study the samples with magnifying lenses to see how many creatures they could identify.

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Tori’s Wastewise session focused on where waste comes from and how to minimise it.  She started by explaining the life cycle of trash and waste and gave the students some idea of the volume of waste produced daily in Auckland.

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She had the group do exercises in identifying the components of trash and also the resources that are consumed in producing and disposing the waste.  They also did exercises to help the group identify better ways to reduce, reuse and recycle materials so that the amount of waste going into landfills is minimised.

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Tori also had the students do an interesting game about resource depletion using beans to represent the earth’s natural resources.

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The students enjoyed the game and learned a lot about reducing present consumption and conserving the earth’s natural resources for future generations.

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Our many thanks to Shelly and Tori for joining us for the day and for their great presentations  which were much appreciated and enjoyed by everyone. And also our thanks to Auckland Council for supporting the CUE Haven project and sponsoring their visit.

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A big thank you to Ashley for organising the visit to CUE Haven and bringing her students out for yet another year.  And Clare thank you for bringing your class along too and for your help today.  We look forward to having you both back with future Ficino School classes.

Thank you to Carrene, Delia and Katrina for joining the group and helping out.  We enjoyed meeting you and look forward to seeing you again.

And most of all our many thanks to the Ficino School students.  It was a real pleasure having a group of such polite, well mannered and enthusiastic students who were keen to learn new things. We hope your field trip was educational and enjoyable. Thank you for planting the trees and we very much hope you will come back to see how your trees have grown up and to explore more of the property.

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