Today a very enthusiastic and motivated group of volunteers came to help out on the new walking track.
The group included Anna, Dawson, Declan, Emma, Lucian, Paul and Steve. Anna, Emma, Paul and Steve have assisted us for the past three years as part of Spark (formerly Telecom NZ) staff volunteer days at CUE Haven and it was great to have them back and also meet their friends.
We spent some time getting acquainted and reacquainted over morning tea and Thomas gave a safety briefing and an overview of the work to be performed.
We then drove up to the new track area and went to work. The first task was to carry the tools and supplies up to the end of the track.
The team picked up where previous volunteer groups had left off. The track route had been sprayed and it was necessary to clear off the dead vegetation.
The section of track the team was working on went alongside a sloping section of ground and also uphill. As a result, it was necessary to bench the track into the side of the slope.
As they worked their way up it became necessary to cut out steps because the grade was too steep.
Each step was supported with a wooden plank held in place with pegs.
As the planks were installed, the steps were shaped and smoothed.
In some areas the sides of the steps were quite steep and the team shored them up with small retaining walls.
The team broke for lunch and took a walk down to the cottage via the gully walking track which gave them a chance to explore some other parts of the property.
After lunch the motivated team went back to work for a couple more hours and completed an incredible 65 metres of new walking track—an amazing effort for a small group on a very hot day.
When they left the field they brought up all the tools and unused equipment.
Whilst waiting for Dawson who found a few spots he wanted to fix up!
We were really impressed by everyone in this team. They got along well, had fun, and came up with innovative solutions to some interesting track challenges. They accomplished an amazing amount of work and have a lot to show for their efforts.
What a fantastic accomplishment!!
We want to thank Paul for organising the day and getting the team together. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones. We very much enjoyed working with you all.
Our heartfelt thanks to all of you for taking a day off work and coming out to help us. We really appreciate all your hard work and your wonderful contribution. Thanks to your efforts we are much closer to completing the new walking track this summer. We look forward to having you all back for a leisurely visit to take a walk on the completed track and to plant the celebration trees!
CUE Haven has a different look after this week’s Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award (DoEHA) residential. This was the sixteenth gold award residential at CUE Haven and in spite of unusually hot weather the team accomplished amazing things.
The group arrived on Monday morning and included Abigail, Brian, Britney, Brooke, Isabella, Kanj, Mckenzie, Melissa, Rayman and Tayla. Abinaya and Ellis, had completed their DoEHA gold award residential at CUE Haven last year and it was great having them back as team leaders.
We got acquainted over morning tea and gave the participants an overview of the CUE Haven project, the planned work for the week and a safety briefing.
We then went for a short tour of the property to give the participants a better feel for the project and the work they would be doing. While on the walk, the wet and windy weather we had been promised closed in but that did not dampen the students’ enthusiasm.
Tasks for the week included building a big double bench and six single benches, doing general maintenance and weeding along the roads and walking tracks, carving a new totem pole for one of the walking track entrances and walking track maintenance. Throughout the week, people moved among different groups so everyone had a chance to experience different projects.
Because Monday afternoon turned out to be windy and rainy we decided to start with the building projects that could be done in the nursery. The group broke into smaller teams to work on benches, the double bench and the totem pole.
DoEHA teams have built a number of walking tracks at CUE Haven and they have marked the entrances to the tracks with totem poles carved with designs developed by each team. This week the group carved a new pole and painted two other poles that previous teams had carved.
The first task was to come up with a design. The team chose stylised koru as a theme.
Once the design was drawn on the pole, the carving could be started.
The entire pole was then painted red and the carved areas were painted in white.
In order to highlight the carved areas, the team ingeniously outlined them with bits of fence wire left over from the days when CUE Haven was a farm.
Once the work was finished it was time to install the totem pole in the field. The team loaded it on to the ute and we took it to the installation site.
The new pole would be installed at the entry to the walking track. There was already a pole there that had been carved and installed by a previous team but not painted, so this team took up their paint and brushes and finished the job.
Meanwhile Andy showed the others how to use the post hole digger to dig the hole for the new pole.
Once the loose dirt was cleared from the hole, the pole was cemented in place.
The new totem pole is a great addition to another entrance to the walking track.
And the design team should be very proud of their creative efforts and hard work.
The area in front of the CUE Haven cottage has been landscaped and we have installed some educational native bird and tree signs that were designed by Unitec graphic design students. We asked the group to build some benches in order to enable visitors to enjoy this space.
We decided on two small single benches and a big double sided bench. We gave the participants the design and dimensions and they split into two smaller teams and set to work.
One team tackled the double bench. The first challenge was to study the design and decide how to cut out the timber frames.
The team worked out the dimensions and determined the timber requirements.
Thomas showed them how to use the power saws and supervised the work.
The key to the double bench was the A frame that would provide the support for the structure and the team worked to get the angles just right.
They then bolted the sections together.
And tested the height and prepared the seat and back boards.
At every stage the bench was checked to ensure it passed the comfort test.
They then finished off the top of the bench and even cut a hole for an umbrella.
The last task was staining the bench to weatherproof it.
The end result is a very nice looking, sturdy and comfortable bench which the team should be very proud of.
In addition to the double bench, we wanted two smaller single benches for the landscaped area.
We also wanted the team to build four long benches. Previous DoEHA teams had built two tables out of bathtubs that had been used as water troughs when CUE Haven was a farm. The tables are a great place for an outdoor meal or meeting but up until now we’ve have to bring out stools or chairs. So we asked the team to also come up with some long benches to match the tables.
Andy worked with the team to train and supervise them in the use of power tools and to assist with the design and development.
The team measured and cut the timber.
Once the timber was cut, the benches were assembled.
The team made sure that all the cuts and angles were accurate.
They also did a lot of nailing!
The weight bearing joints were bolted together.
The bench legs and joints were carefully adjusted to make sure everything was level.
The benches that would be installed outside were stained and varnished to protect them from the sun.
And the table benches were brought out and immediately put to good use!
The team should be very proud of the benches which look very professional and will be used and enjoyed by everyone for a long time.
Once the outdoor benches were completed, it was necessary to prepare the area where they would be installed. It was a challenge because the area is quite sloping and uneven and there were big rocks and tree stumps as part of the previous landscaping.
The team spent some time discussing how the space would be used and came up with a plan to reconfigure the area.
The first task was to clear and smooth the area.
They made ingenious use of an old tree stumps for a roller.
The next step was to cover the area with gravel so that it can be used in all seasons.
The gravel pile was only a short distance away but of course it was downhill!
Once the gravel was smoothed out, the team installed the benches. The double bench needed everyone to carry it.
The team used the old tree stumps as additional seats.
The change is amazing and the area now is a very inviting and comfortable place for visitors to relax.
Walking Track Work
There are almost 4 kms of walking tracks and boardwalk at CUE Haven, much of it built by DoEHA teams. The tracks need constant maintenance, both to keep them clear of vegetation and also to repair or improve any areas prone to erosion or excessive wear. All team members took time out from building tasks to do some field work on the tracks.
The team walked the tracks and cut back any trees or weeds that were growing onto the track. They used loppers, shears and secateurs depending on the nature of the weed.
As a result of this work, the tracks will remain clear and easier to navigate during the summer growing season.
In addition to weeds, some areas of the track needed maintenance to control wear and erosion. Some of the steps in particular have been worn away and the team shored them up with wooden planks.
It was challenging work, especially in the heat and sun. Each step is different and a solution has to be developed for each one. Usually it involved digging out the side of the step and installing a box frame. Each frame had to be cut to shape and tapered to make sure it would fit with other frames.
The team was very creative in coming up with practical solutions to the steps.
At the bottom of the steps the team fixed, there was a long stretch of track that was sloped and was eroding. They decided that the best solution was a small retaining wall along the edge. First they measured the distance involved and determined the ideal level of the track.
They then dug out the channel for the boards.
And installed the retaining wall.
While part of the team was fixing the track in the middle of the grove, others worked on the steps by the main entrance to the DoEHA Grove.
Thanks to the team’s efforts the steps are much safer and easier to walk and also look very nice.
The team accomplished an amazing amount of work in just four days especially considering the very hot weather. What a fantastic effort by the whole team!!
We’d like to thank Andy Woodhouse, National Training and Development Director of the DoEHA for organising the residential and for his continuing support. Andy, thanks for arranging your schedule so that you could be on site with us all week to help supervise and train the participants. It was much appreciated.
A BIG thank you to Abinaya and Ellis. Your effective and positive team leading played a big part in how much the team accomplished. And thanks too for all your hard work. We hope you will be back to lead future teams.
And our many many thanks to the hard working team. We very much enjoyed getting to know you and working with you.
It was great to see how willing you were to tackle new projects, learn new skills and bring creative thinking and team work to the challenges we gave you. You have made a major contribution to the CUE Haven project and your work will be appreciated by the many visitors over the years. We were very impressed by the way you came together as a team and worked so well together so quickly.
We wish you all the best of luck as you continue to pursue your gold awards and much success and happiness in your future endeavours. We look forward to having you back at CUE Haven either as team leaders for another residential or just to visit and see how things are progressing.
Lisa’s Wish Charitable Trust (LWCT) is an organisation conceived by the late Lisa Knapman-Smith, a wife and mother who passed away from cancer in 2009. Lisa’s vision was that the Trust would provide support and activities for children whose parents or caregivers have been diagnosed with cancer.
In January 2015, we hosted the first LWCT camp during which the participants began creating the Lisa’s Wish Grove at CUE Haven. They built a short walking track, a bench and a welcoming arch which has become one of the most recognisable features of the CUE Haven landscape.
This weekend the second LWCT camp was held. The group arrived on Friday afternoon and included Antonio, Jeremiah, Melody, Nikita, Ronan and Sebastian. Antonio and Nikita also attended last year’s camp. The camp leaders were LWCT trustees Ian Knapman-Smith and Juliet Ireland.
We got acquainted over a snack and gave the group a welcome and an overview of the CUE Haven project and a safety briefing.
They then unpacked and we went for a walk to the Lisa’s Wish Grove.
The plan for the camp was to extend the walking track that had been built last year and join it up with the existing wetland boardwalk. The challenge was to find the best route for the track. The alternatives seemed to be through muddy swamp, through thick vegetation or around a steep corner that would require lots of steps.
The team spent some time Friday night studying the problem and agreed on a solution that would involve clearing a relatively flat area then building steps down to the wettest part of route where they would build a bridge to connect to the boardwalk. They were an enthusiastic group and went to work Friday night starting the work, trimming some of the vegetation and transplanting some trees.
It was a very hot weekend and the team decided to start early Saturday morning at 7.30 am before it got too hot. They continued clearing the path and once the soil was exposed, they smoothed and benched the pathway.
On the steeper sections of the tracks they cut steps.
Each step was reinforced with a backing plank held in place by wooden pegs. The team all got a chance to test their skills with mallets and hammers.
And all the hard work has resulted in some very safe, comfortable and professional looking steps!
The next challenge was to build the bridge over the wet part of the track. The bridge took a lot of planning and design. It was built on posts and frames sunk into the ground. The framework was built first. The team determined the framework dimensions and measured and cut the timber.
The framing planks were placed in position so that the location of the support posts could be determined. The team dug the post holes and used old fence posts as the bridge foundation.
The support posts were secured with concrete.
Once the concrete was dry, the bridge framework was constructed. This required lots of careful measuring and nailing.
Once the framework was finished, it was time to finish off the bridge with a top layer of planks. Because the bridge was not square, the planks had to be individually measured and cut and some creativity was needed to determine the best way to do the cutting and spacing of the boards.
The planks were laid out and test fitted on the bridge before being nailed down.
Once they were satisfied with the layout, the entire team got involved in nailing the planks in place.
The team accomplished an amazing amount and it had been a long hot day so they broke for a late but well deserved dinner.
On Sunday morning, they were again up early to finish things off. The first task for the day involved spreading gravel on the new track sections so that the track is safe in all kinds of weather. The gravel was loaded into buckets and the taken up to the Grove.
The final track task involved nailing wire mesh over the bridge so that it isn’t slippery when it is wet and is safe for visitors in all weather.
The team also decided to touch up some of the paint work on the Lisa’s Wish Grove arch. The Lisa’s Wish logo includes handprints and the tag line is “In the Hands of Angels.” The team painted their hands and left their handprints on the arch.
It was a fun way to finish off a very challenging and productive weekend.
And almost all the paint made it onto the arch!
When the work in the field was finished, the team did a major clean up in the cottage.
And then they welcomed family and friends who had been invited to see everything the team had accomplished during the weekend camp.
The team also made a fantastic lunch for the visitors.
We really enjoyed working with the team and really appreciated their enthusiasm and dedication. Here is what they have accomplished.
Congratulations! An absolutely amazing accomplishment considering the short time the team was at CUE Haven.
We want to thank Rosemarie Knapman-Smith for all her efforts with organising the camp and her on-going support and we look forward to hosting more LWCT outings and camps.
Our many thanks to Ian and Juliet for serving as camp leaders and for all their hard work and leadership which helped make this camp so successful.
And most of all, a BIG thank you to the students. We enjoyed meeting and working with you all and thank you so much for all of your hard work on a very hot weekend! You have made a significant contribution to Lisa’s Wish Grove and to the CUE Haven project. The track and bridge you built will last for many, many years and will enable visitors an opportunity to explore the wetlands and Lisa’s Wish Grove comfortably and safely.
We wish you all the very best with your studies and do look forward to having you all back again to visit us.
Our summer project is to construct a new walking track at the top of the property where we will be planting next winter. Since November, with the assistance of several teams of volunteers, we have managed to get over a third of the track cleared and benched.
So how much more do we have to do? Are we there yet?
In November 2014, the Department of Conservation had arranged for a team from Westpac, one of New Zealand’s largest banks, to come out to CUE Haven to assist with the construction of a track during Conservation Week. A couple of months ago we contacted the Westpac team and requested them to help out again with the new track construction.
And we were delighted to have Rene and his fantastic team of Business Analysts from Westpac’s Auckland office return to CUE Haven to help us once more.
The team arrived shortly after nine and included Devan, Indra, Leon, Nooshka, Rene and Rory. We spent some time getting reacquainted over morning tea and then headed up to the top of the property to start work.
The team initially worked in two groups with Devan, Indra and Nooshka forging ahead clearing and benching the track and cutting steps.
Leon, Rene and Rory followed behind, shaping the steps and boxing them up with timber.
The weather was perfect and the team made great progress.
Once the teams joined up they took a short break and then continued working together to move the track ahead.
Thanks to the work of the Westpac BA team, the end of the track is now in sight and we are in a good position to finish it off in the new year when other volunteer teams return to CUE Haven.
After several hours of work, we took a leisurely walk down to the cottage for a well earned lunch. On the way down the team had a chance to check out the track sections they had built last year.
We’d like to thank Nestle NZ for providing the variety of Nescafe beverages that were much enjoyed by everyone.
A big thank you to Rene for organising the visit and bringing his team out again to assist.
And many thanks the enthusiastic and hardworking team. It was a fun and productive day and we really appreciate your efforts. You have definitely made a mark on CUE Haven with two big sections of walking track—one at top of the property and one in the gully. The tracks will be enjoyed by visitors to CUE Haven for years to come. We wish you all a great holiday season and we hope you will come back with your families for a more leisurely visit and to help out again in 2016.
The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand is a charitable trust organised to help people, families, organisations and communities to improve and sustain mental health and reach full potential. A vision of the Foundation is to create a society where all people are able to achieve positive mental health and well being.
Today seventeen members of the Auckland office visited CUE Haven to assist us with our summer walking track project and to have a celebratory end of year meal together. The group included Amanda, Amy, Charlie, Donna, Ellen, Gina, Jack, Jono, Kate, Kylie, Michael, Moira, Ngavaine, Noradene, Philip, Rebekah, and Virginia.
We got acquainted over morning tea and gave the group an overview of the CUE Haven Restoration project and a description of the work planned for the day and a safety briefing.
Noradene then said a karakia to bless the project and the work we were about to undertake.
We then rode up to the top of the property and Thomas gave the group a short demonstration of the tasks and the team went to work. We have been clearing and shaping the track and are now about a third of the way done.
The team started working through a nasty patch of kikuyu grass. The thick, deep roots are difficult to pull out and cut through but the hard working team made great progress.
As the dead grass was cleared away the team could determine the best way to shape and bench the track and cut steps as necessary.
We were interrupted by a few short rain showers but Noradene helped keep the positive energy flowing by serenading us with her ukulele!
The team made amazing progress and after a couple of hours of labouring away took a walk back down to the cottage and had a chance to see some other aspects of the CUE Haven property and the progress of the restoration project. Then it was time for a leisurely Christmas lunch.
And in keeping with the spirit of the season, the entire group treated us to a version of Silent Night in Maori and English with Jack and Noradene providing the ukulele accompaniment. It was really nice and we very much appreciated it.
We’d like to thank Gina for organising the visit.
And a very big thank you to the hard working team. It was a pleasure meeting and working with the team and we very much appreciate their contribution to CUE Haven. The team added almost fifty metres to the new walking track in difficult conditions and their efforts will be enjoyed by visitors for years as they explore the growing native forest.
Much of the work of the Mental Health Foundation is built around the concept of the Five Ways to Well Being. The idea is that building these actions into one’s daily life can lead to positive change and outcomes. The Five Ways are – Be Active, Keep Learning, Give, Connect and Take Notice. And all of the team members certainly embodied all five actions today.
Thanks again for a great day and for your fantastic contribution to CUE Haven.
Have a wonderful holiday season and we look forward to seeing you all again in 2016!
As part of their end of year activities, Year ten students at Orewa College north of Auckland were able to select from a variety of outdoor projects and eight students chose to come to CUE Haven to help us with our summer walking track project.
At about 9:30 science teacher Michele Caldicott arrived with students Charlie, Hannah, Josh R., Josh S., Kate, Maia, Ryan and Travis. Also joining us for the day was Michelle’s husband, Crispin.
We got acquainted over morning tea and Mahrukh told the group about the CUE Haven restoration project and Thomas gave them an overview of the work planned for the day and a safety briefing.
We then drove up to the new track site and went to work. Thomas gave a description and demonstration of the work.
The group then broke in to teams to tackle the various track challenges. Some participants cleared away vegetation while others benched and shaped the track.
Clearing away the thick roots of the kikuyu grass was especially challenging but the group coped well and made a lot of progress moving the track ahead.
The team took a short break in the field–
–and a couple of students decided it was more comfortable relaxing in the thick kikuyu grass.
After a little over two hours of hard work the group took a leisurely walk back to the cottage for lunch. On the walk back the students had a chance to see some other aspects of the project including a big weta who has taken up residence in one of the weta hotels.
It was a wonderful end to a very productive day. The team had cleared and shaped 25 metres of track – a very commendable effort considering the challenging conditions.
We’d like to thank Nestle NZ for providing the Nestle Hot Chocolate and Nescafe Menu sachets which the students really enjoyed.
Thank you Crispin for joining us and helping out. We really enjoyed meeting you and appreciated your assistance.
Also many thanks to Michelle for organising the day and bringing out the students and helping today. We hope to have you back with more students next year.
And, a BIG THANK YOU to the hard working students. It was a fun day and we very much enjoyed working with you all. This part of the track was especially challenging because of the heavy kikuyu grass but you did a great job and came up with some very creative solutions to some of the shaping challenges we encountered. You have all made a major contribution to the CUE Haven project and the track you helped build will be enjoyed by lots of visitors for many years to come. We look forward to having you visit CUE Haven again so you can take a walk on the finished track. Thanks!