Today David Walker, science and sustainability teacher at Murrays Bay Intermediate School in Auckland, brought out a group of twenty five Year Seven and Eight students for a day of planting and exploring. Also accompanying the group today was parent Gretel Roberts. This is the fifth time students from Murrays Bay have been out to CUE Haven and we really enjoy their visits.
We started out with morning tea.
David gave an overview of the objectives for the day and Mahrukh told the students about the CUE Haven project and what we are doing and hope to accomplish. Thomas then gave a safety briefing.
The group then went to the nursery to pick up spades and gloves and then we went out to the planting area. Once at the planting site, Thomas identified the different trees that the students would be planting and gave a planting demo.
And then the students went to work. It was a bit of a challenge on the uneven ground covered with dead weed grass but it didn’t slow the group down.
The weather was totally changeable. We would get periods of bright sunshine mixed with heavy showers, but everyone was well prepared and the group coped very well.
The students found lots of worms and snails and skinks in the rich soil.
And it didn’t take long for everyone’s hands to get dirty.
Once the planting was finished, the students put a bamboo stick next to each plant so that we will be able to find the trees this summer when the weeds grow up around them.
The students also gathered up all the empty pots and trays for recycling.
And then headed to the nursery to clean up and have lunch.
After lunch, Rachel Griffiths and Shelly Hackett of the Auckland Council WaiCare education programme gave the students a presentation on water quality issues and a demonstration on water testing. Rachel and Shelley had previously gone out and collected water samples from two stream areas on the property.
The students learned how to test water quality and participated in testing the water samples for temperature, pH levels, dissolved oxygen and clarity. Shelly and Rachel explained why each of those factors is important to water quality and maintaining healthy waterways. They also discussed how the shade provided by the trees we have been planting was affecting the water quality.
Rachel and Shelly had also collected some pond vegetation in the hope of finding some creatures, known as macroinvertebrates. The type and variety of animals found are a further indication of the health of the streams. They explained how to identify the creatures and gave the students a chance to see how many they could find.
The group broke into smaller teams so that everyone could do the experiments and observations.
After the Waicare session, the group went for a short walk through the wetlands to see how within a few years the area had been transformed into lush landscape. It was a nice end to a fun and fruitful field trip
We’d like to thank Nestle NZ for providing the much enjoyed Nestle Hot Chocolate for the students and for the Nestle Café Menu sachets which were appreciated by the adults. And a special thank you to Karen, who drives the school bus. Karen has brought out all of the Murrays Bay groups over the years and has become a good friend. And instead of relaxing while the students are working she insists on helping out and we are really grateful for her help.
And many thanks to Rachel and Shelley for their excellent Waicare session and also for their helpful guidance and advice. And thanks, too, to the Auckland Council Waicare programme for their continued support of CUE Haven and for enabling their educators to contribute to the project.
And a big thank you to David for bringing out the students and to Gretel for giving up a day and helping out. We really appreciate your interest and support.
And most of all, a very BIG THANK YOU to the hard working students. It was fun having you all out to CUE Haven and we hope you had a good time and learned a lot. Thank you for planting the trees today. You have made an important contribution to the CUE Haven restoration project and your trees will form part of the native forest we are all creating together for current and future generations. We wish you all the best and we’re looking forward to your next visit.
We are very happy to once again have the Shah Satnam Ji Green ‘S’ Welfare Force assisting us with our restoration planting. This is the third year in a row that the group has planted trees at CUE Haven and we really enjoy working with them and appreciate all their hard work and selfless service.
The Shah Satnam Ji Green ‘S’ Welfare Force was formed in India by Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan in 2006. Originally intended to help humanity in distress by mobilising during natural disasters, the organisation has expanded its membership and scope. In addition to disaster relief work, members worldwide are also involved in environmental clean up projects, blood donor drives, anti-drug campaigns and tree planting to help the environment.
All of the members in New Zealand work or go to school during the week and devote their weekends to volunteer service.
This weekend we had 26 Green ‘S’ Force members out to help us plant. Some worked one or both days. The group included Ankit C., Ankit, J., Bharpoor, Deepak, Gaurav, Gursewak, Jagseer, Jasveer, Karmjit, Krishan, Monika, Navjot, Ninder, Nitash, Paramjot, Parminder, Pooja, Raj, Rohit. Samandeep, Sandeep, Shubman, Simar, Suhas, Sukhjeet and Vinod.
We knew many of the members from last year but there were also several new people and it was great catching up with old friends and making new ones.
Each day we got acquainted over morning tea and then gave a safety briefing and orientation.
After that, the first task was to load up the truck with plants.
The site for this weekend was very challenging. It was steep and covered with thick dead grass and the site slopes up from our property to the neighbour’s boundary. Our neighbour, Alan, very kindly allowed us to drive onto his property so we didn’t have to carry the trays of plants up the steep hill.
It was a great help and even Alan’s cows took an interest in what we were doing.
Before they started work, the team had a short prayer.
And then went to work. They first spent some time carrying the trees down and laying them out where they would be planted.
As the team worked, Tom and Bharpoor kept them supplied with trees to plant and they slowly moved across and down the steep slope.
The hard working team even took their breaks in the field.
And Vinod, who is working on launching a singing career, entertained the group with some of his songs.
You can hear a selection of his songs here on YouTube.
Once most of the planting was finished the team gathered up all the empty pots and trays for recycling.
The weather was perfect on both days and by the end of the day on Sunday the team had as usual exceeded our expectations and planted a huge number of trees. As a result of the team’s efforts we are well on our way to reaching our planting goal for this year.
A very BIG thank you to everyone who came out this weekend. We really enjoyed working with you and look forward to seeing you back at CUE Haven soon as we continue our planting season. THANKS again!
Year 12 and 13 horticulture students from Avondale College in Auckland have been planting at CUE Haven since 2009 as part of the Auckland Council’s Trees for Survival (TFS) programme. Today a great group of 49 students and staff members Hannah, Helen and John joined us for a day of planting and exploring.
Avondale College has an extensive nursery where the students grew the native plants from seedlings provided by TFS. Last month we picked up the plants from the College and the students helped us load up the truck.
The planting day had originally been set for Tuesday, 12 May, but because of torrential rains, we rescheduled it for today. Gail Farrell and Eve Clarke from the TFS programme arrived early to organise the site and to lay out the plants.
The students arrived a little after ten. Because they came in a big double decker bus they got dropped off at the front gate and walked up.
Once everyone had arrived we had morning tea and got acquainted.
Mahrukh then gave a welcome and introduction. About half the students had been out to CUE Haven last year so many of them were already familiar with the project. We updated them on new developments and described the plan for the day.
We then took the short walk to the planting site and Gail gave a safety briefing and planting demo.
The students went to work on the hilly site which was made even more challenging with lots of dead weed grass.
When the planting was finished, the students went around to pick up the empty pots and also put a stake by each tree so we will be able to find the trees when the weeds grow up in the spring and summer.
The group then went for a short walk along the walking track and wetlands boardwalk to observe various aspects of the revegetation project.
They were particularly interested in a hedgehog that had been caught in one of the traps in the field and we explained that hedgehogs destroy native bird eggs and are therefore considered pests.
After the walk we collected and cleaned the equipment and then had lunch.
It was a great planting day and we enjoyed catching up with the students who had been out last year and also making new friends.
We want to thank Nestle NZ for providing Nestle Hot Chocolate and Nescafe Menu sachets which were very much enjoyed and appreciated by the students.
We also want to thank Auckland Council and the Trees for Survival programme for their continued support of our restoration project and a special thank you to Gail and Eve for all their hard work today.
And many thanks to horticulture teachers Hannah and John for their efforts throughout the year in getting the plants ready and organising the planting day and also for helping out today. And our thanks too to physics teacher Helen for coming out to assist for the day.
And most of all we want to thank all the hard working students. We really enjoyed working with you today and really appreciate what you have done. Thanks for growing the plants and coming out today to plant them. You have made a major contribution to the CUE Haven project and also to the future of the planet. We wish you all the best with your future endeavours and look forward to seeing you back at CUE Haven to enjoy the growing forest. THANK YOU!!
Today we had another great planting day with the Year 6 students from St. Kentigern School. This is the eighth year in a row that students have come out to CUE Haven for a Trees for Survival planting and the St. Kentigern visit is one of the high points of our planting season.
Over the years the planting days have increased in scope and today in addition to planting, the students also had a field session about plants, invertebrates and pest control.
The group arrived at about ten and in addition to 68 students, the group included teachers Patsy, Mary, Julian and Jarred and parents Alena, Angelene, Ann, Caroline, Catherine, Greg, Kim, Robyn, Sarah, Sharon, Shelley, Tanya and Wayne. Also joining us were David, Peter and Stephen from the Parnell Rotary, who support the St. Kentigern TFS programme and special guest Denise Coleman, who led the St. Kentigern TFS programme as the teacher of science, until she retired two years ago.
We also had a lot of help today from Auckland Council. Gail Farrell and Frankie Hofland from TFS were on site to oversee the planting activities and Shanthie Walker from the Environment for Sustainability education group handled the insect and plant sessions.
Additionally, Liz Maire, the schools and community educator for The Forest Bridge Trust came along to provide an extra helping hand.
We started the day with morning tea and a welcome and overview of the CUE Haven project.
The plan for the day was to break the large group into four smaller equal groups which corresponded to their houses at school. Two groups went off with Gail and Frankie to plant, another went with Thomas for a pest control discussion and demo and the fourth group went with Shanthie to learn about plants and insects. During the morning the groups rotated so that each group had an opportunity to do all activities.
At the planting site, Gail started out by giving each group an overview of the benefits of tree planting and a safety briefing.
And then she gave a short planting demo.
And the teams went to work! It was an unusually warm for May and a perfect day for planting.
The dead grass may have made digging and planting a challenge but it was a great cushion for acrobatics.
In about two hours of work, the group managed to plant 325 trees—a great effort in challenging planting conditions.
Not far from the planting site were the in-field study sessions on invertebrates and pests.
Thomas led a discussion about introduced pests and predators that pose a risk to native New Zealand plants and animals and the measures that we are taking at CUE Haven to protect these native species.
We had put out some tracking tunnel cards the night before and gave the group a chance to see if they could identify the footprints of the animals that had visited the tunnels.
Thomas also explained how we control possums with bait boxes and traps.
He also explained the traps that we use for rats, stoats and weasels and gave the boys a chance to see how they work.
A rolled up pair of old socks was used to represent an unsuspecting pest.
The other session was presented by Shanthie, Auckland Council’s Environment for Sustainability educator. Shanthie focused on how plants and animals are connected and need each other to survive. She talked about how insects, lizards, birds and even the wind help to pollinate flowers so that plants can propagate and students had to observe and identify the seeds, flowers and plants that they collected.
The students learned how to make observations in the field and record their findings.
Shanthie had previously laid out pitfall traps to catch some insects for further observations.
When the students checked the traps, they found slaters, ants, millipedes, longhorn beetles, snails and a centipede and compared and contrasted the appearance and behaviour of the various specimens.
When all of the groups had done each activity it was time for lunch. The students used the new observational skills they developed to see an interesting event in the insect world. On the walk back they spotted an unusually large spider.
On closer observation, they saw that the spider wasn’t doing much of anything and that a reddish wasp was attacking the spider. It was a Pompilid wasp, or spider hunting wasp, which was self-introduced into NZ from Australia. These wasps do not form colonies like other wasps and they hunt large spiders which they sting to paralyze. They then drag the spider into their burrow and lay an egg on it. When the baby wasp hatches, it feeds on the spider. Yum! Yum!
After lunch, three students represented the Year 6 class and planted a celebration tree by the cottage. Each year since 2008, the boys have gifted us a pohutakawa springfire tree and they have planted them in a row designated the St Kentigern School Pohutakawa Grove. The Grove of eight trees is looking great and we really appreciate the gift.
Before they left, the students thanked us and also sang Happy Birthday to three of their classmates who were celebrating their birthdays.
It was a wonderful end to another Saint Kentigern School field trip to CUE Haven.
We’d like to thank Nestle NZ for generously providing Hot Chocolate which was very much appreciated by the students. And thanks, too, for the Nescafe Menu sachets which were enjoyed by the adults.
We also want to thank the Auckland Parnell Rotary Club their continuing support of the St. Kentigern TFS programme and David, Stephen and Peter for helping out with the planting today.
Our many thanks to Liz, from The Forest Bridge Trust, for coming along for the day and helping out and also being photographer for the day.
And a big thank you to Shanthie for her very interesting and educational sessions with the students and our thanks to Auckland Council for their continued support of CUE Haven and for making it possible for their staff to join us.
And many thanks to Gail and Frankie from Auckland Council’s TFS programme. Gail has been involved with TFS plantings at CUE Haven from the very first St. Kentigern planting in 2008 and we value her friendship and advice and we look forward to working with Frankie too.
Denise, thank you so much for taking the time to come out for another great St. Kentigern planting day. Your support of the TFS programme and CUE Haven over the years is much appreciated and valued.
We also want to thank teachers Patsy, Mary, Jarred and Julian for their support and for keeping things so well organised today. As the new teacher of science, Patsy has taken responsibility of the TFS program and we very much look forward to working with you and many thanks for all your assistance this year.
And most of all, a huge THANK YOU to the students and parents who came out. It was great having you and we really appreciate your hard work and enthusiasm. We had a fun day with you and we look forward to having you all back again.
Our 2015 planting season got off to a great start today as twelve Year 5 students from Ficino School in Auckland joined us for a day of planting, leaning and exploring. The students were accompanied by teacher Ashley Leathley and parents Mary and Glyn.
Also joining us for the day was Tori Christie of Auckland Council’s Wastewise programme to give the students a presentation of waste minimisation.
The group arrived at about ten and after morning tea, Mahrukh gave the group an overview of the CUE Haven project and the plan for the day. Tom then gave a safety briefing.
The first task was tree planting and the team took a short walk out to the planting site.
This year’s planting area is very challenging. It has not been cut or grazed since 2009 and it was mostly kikuyu grass which has gone rank. Because it is so steep we haven’t been able to have it cut over the years. To prepare the site, we had it sprayed twice and last month had it slashed. The result is that the area is covered with dead brown grass and there are still some thick kikuyu roots in some spots.
Tom gave a planting demo and explained the best way to clear the ground of dead vegetation and the team went to work.
It was an unusually warm day for May but the group coped very well with the heat and some of the other challenges. For example, some of the trees didn’t want to come out of their planting bags:
And some of the dead grass that we were planting in was hard to get through sometimes.
But by working together we were able to get through the worst challenges!
And planting can be fun but dirty work!
In just over an hour of hard work the team had planted over 100 trees! An amazing effort and a great start to our planting season. The group helped clean up the area and then took an early lunch.
After lunch the group went for a short walk in the bush. Tom showed them different aspects of the property and talked about the CUE Haven restoration project and related some of the things the students were leaning in class to things they observed in the field.
The students learned how to tell the difference between manuka and kanuka trees.
They observed the effects of seed dispersal through wind and by birds.
And they also saw a lot of native skinks and made friends with some of them.
Tom also explained some of the challenges that introduced pests create for native New Zealand plants and animals and demonstrated some of our pest control work. We had put out some tracking tunnel cards the night before.
And gave the group a chance to see if they could figure out what creatures had visited the tunnels.
And we also demonstrated the trapping techniques that we use to catch possums, stoats, weasels and rats.
After the walk, the group headed back to the cottage for Tori’s Wastewise presentation. The objective of Tori’s presentation was to give the group a better understanding of where the materials we use and discard on a daily basis come from and where they end up. The students learned about how much waste is produced every day in Auckland and how most of it ends up in landfills. They learned about alternatives to waste, which include reusing, recycling and reducing the use of items that might otherwise be thrown away.
Tori had the students do an exercise where they tried to figure out what natural resources are consumed in the manufacture of common items such as paper, plastic and tins.
They then discussed which of those items could be reused, recycled or reduced. To finish the session, Tori had the students play another game in which they are asked to remove beans from a bowl. Some students are given chopsticks, some small spoons and some larger spoons and cups and some are told they can only use their little fingers.
Tori counted time as the students worked on moving the beans and they quickly saw that how different tools resulted in beans being moved at different rates. Students using the cup emptied the bowl in no time.
Tori and the students then discussed how as humans have developed, we are using up resources at a faster rate. The beans in the blow represented the Earth’s natural resources and the spoons, chopsticks, etc. represented the technical progress that has enabled humans to use resources more rapidly over the ages. The game was intended to demonstrate the need to reduce consumption and conserve resources for future generations.
Tori closed the session by having each student describe what they could do at home to apply what they had learned.
We want to thank Tori for joining us and for her excellent presentation. And we wish to thank the Auckland Council Wastewise programme for supporting the CUE Haven project and making Tori available for the day.
We also want to thank Nestle NZ for providing Nestle hot chocolate drinks for the group to enjoy.
A big thank you to teacher Ashley. This is the third time Ashley has brought a group of students out to CUE Haven – we really appreciate it and enjoy working with you and your students.
And many thanks to parents Mary and Glyn for giving up a day and helping out. You added a lot of value to the effort.
And finally a very big THANK YOU to the hard working students. We are always impressed by how motivated and polite Ficino students are and we really enjoyed having you visit us. Best of luck in the future and come back and see us again!
This week saw another successful Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Awards (DoEHA) gold award residential at CUE Haven. The group included Alex, Blake, Caitlin, Hamish, Hannah, Jenna, Kalym, Kaushal, Katy, Liesbet, Rebekah, Veronika and Zoe. Caitlin and Kalym did their gold residentials at CUE Haven last year and it was good to have them back as team leaders.
The group arrived on Monday morning and we got acquainted over morning tea. Mahrukh gave a welcome and history of the CUE Haven project and Tom gave a safety briefing and an overview of activities planned for the week.
We then went for a short tour of the property and a walk through the DoEHA Grove so that the group could see the work that previous groups had done and get a better idea of what they would be doing.
The team tackled a variety of tasks during the week. They spent most of their time and effort finishing up the mosaic of the DoEHA logo in the Grove and also did walking track maintenance, fence repair and maintenance, planted some trees, did some weeding and they also painted some of the totem poles that previous teams had carved. It was a busy week and we had to be flexible because the weather was very changeable and we had to work around the cloudbursts.
In October 2013 a gold award team started a mosaic of the DoEHA logo to welcome visitors to their Grove at CUE Haven. Subsequent teams have added to the mosaic but unfortunately, over time erosion and ground movement have taken their toll on it. We decided to stablise the mosaic by building a brick wall around it and then filling in the circle to complete the mosaic. An earlier team had put down a concrete base in the circular area to be filled and a brick wall was constructed and it was the job of this team to complete the work.
The project required a lot of different skills but the first challenge was getting all of the materials down to the site. It was a long hike to the nearest spot we could bring up materials in the ute.
Once all the equipment and materials were on site, the first task was to raise the level of the concrete ring so that mosaic tiles could be installed at the right level. The team worked together to put down a smooth layer of concrete.
The concrete was left to dry overnight and the next morning the team went up to do the actual mosaic work. First they had to bail out the overnight rain.
They then mixed up more concrete and spread it out in a thin layer that the mosaic tiles would be set into. It was a challenging job to match up the irregularly shaped tiles and get everything even but the end result looked good.
The concrete was again allowed to harden overnight and the next day the team went up to fill in the spaces around the tiles with concrete grout. They had to take extra care to make sure that no concrete was covering the tiles. They also fixed up any areas of the old mosaic that they could easily correct by putting in new tiles.
The last mosaic job was to do a final clean up. This involved sweeping off dust and wiping off any accumulated concrete grout.
The end result is a vast improvement and future groups will work on fixing up the original sections that have shifted and settled.
The walking tracks at CUE Haven require constant maintenance to keep vegetation and weeds under control. Additionally, we are always finding ways to improve the tracks to make them easier and more interesting for visitors.
While waiting for the mosaic concrete to dry the team would take time to work on the tracks. A big part of the work involved trimming away weeds and overgrowing vegetation.
An earlier team had installed some boardwalk sections on a wet section of a new track and some of the joints between the boardwalk sections were incomplete. The team went to work to fix the sections and also finish off the boardwalks by putting down wire mesh to make them safe to walk on in all kinds of weather.
The last and most challenging bit of track work involved redesigning and rebuilding some steps on three sections of the track. Because of ground movement and settling, some of the steps have gotten quite deep and they were becoming difficult to navigate. The team studied the problem and came up with solutions which involved either reforming existing steps or putting in additional steps. The result is a great improvement.
Earlier teams built a chessboard and a set of chess and checker pieces. The chessboard is located behind the hut which was built from the old water tank near the top of the property. In order to provide secure storage for the pieces as well as a place for players to sit, we acquired two storage boxes and an earlier team reinforced them with timber. This team tackled the job of securing them in position by the chess board.
The first step involved digging holes that would take the legs that would be attached to the boxes and set in concrete. To do this the team took the boxes up to the site and took accurate measurements. They also smoothed and levelled the ground so the boxes would sit on a level surface.
They also drilled holes in the corners of the boxes so that the leg brackets could be attached.
They then mixed up concrete and filled the holes they had dug and set the boxes in securely.
The last step was to smooth out the ground and clean up the area.
And of course have a game!
At CUE Haven we encourage people to support our restoration efforts and plant celebration trees to mark important life events. Earlier in the week we were contacted by our friends Laxmi and Sudesh wanting to plant celebration trees to mark their daughter, Kanika’s, upcoming birthday and wedding. Kanika is a DoEHA silver award holder and we thought it would be lovely to have the gold award residential team at CUE Haven help Kanika plant the 30 canopy trees!
Also, during the week Rebekah received news she had been promoted at work, so to celebrate the special occasion, she planted a special golden totara.
The team helped get the trees and equipment from the nursery and then joined Laxmi, Sudesh and Kanika and planted the trees.
This winter, we are going to be planting along the boundary with our neighbour who is still grazing cattle. We want to make sure that the fence is secure so that the cows don’t get any ideas about supplementing their grass diet with some nice trees. The team inspected the fence and repaired battens and wires as needed. They also replaced some battens.
Earlier teams have been carving totem poles to mark the entrances to the walking tracks they have built. The earliest poles were painted a solid colour and we decided to use some white and black paint to fill in the carved areas so that people could more easily see the interesting carving work.
The team worked really hard this week and had to contend with rainy weather and a cold snap as well. They accomplished an amazing amount of work and also managed to take some time to relax.
They played cards
We want to thank Andy Woodhouse, National Training Director DoEHA programme for organising the residential and providing assistance and support—and for hobbling back on Friday after ankle surgery to see the team off.
A big Thank you to Caitlin for heading the team. You did an excellent job and your leadership helped make the week very successful.
And many thanks to Kalym for helping out again – your energy and enthusiasm are much appreciated.
And we want to thank the hard working team. We really enjoyed meeting and working with you. We hope you will come back as team leaders for future DoEHA residentials. Best of luck in completing your gold awards and in all your future endeavours.
You have all made a very valuable and lasting contribution to the CUE Haven project. All the work that you did will be appreciated and enjoyed by the numerous visitors over the years and the trees you planted will provide food and shelter to birds and other wildlife.
In 2010, the family of Duncan Selkirk Welch established “Duncan’s Grove” at CUE Haven by planting 27 memorial kahikateas for little Duncan.
Since then, Duncan’s grandparents, Jack and Adrienne Welch have annually planted memorial trees at CUE Haven on Duncan’s birthday.
Sadly, Jack passed away a few months ago and on Friday, 27th March, a group of Jack’s family and friends established “Jack’s Grove” by planting 25 kahikatea trees in the wetland area adjacent to Duncan’s Grove.
The kahikatea trees are among the oldest trees on this planet having being around in the Miocene era (20 million years ago). They are endemic to New Zealand and are NZ’s tallest tree, growing to 60 – 80 metres in height and living for several hundreds of years–and some live well over 1,000 years.
Kahikatea prefer swampy lowlands where the trees can grow to their maximum height as their roots spread out and entwine with the adjacent kahikatea trees.
The Maori call the kahikatea a whanau or family tree because, like a family, when growing close together in the wetlands their roots entwine and they support each other. This enables the trees to grow much taller than if they were on their own.
As Duncan’s Grove and Jack’s Grove are adjacent to each other, over time the kahikatea trees in both these groves will link up and grow together as a whanau.
Present for the memorial tree planting today and the establishment of Jack’s Grove were Adrienne, Broughton, Mara, Robert, Roddy, Roger, Rosalie, Sandra, Sue and Tessa.
Adrienne holding on to the kahikatea tree planted in 2010 in “Duncan’s Grove”. On her left is one of the kahikatea trees planted in Jack’s Grove.