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Murrays Bay Intermediate School—16 April 2014

April 17, 2014

Today sustainability teacher, David Walker, of Murrays Bay Intermediate School in Auckland brought out a group of twenty-seven Year 8 students for a day of learning and exploration.  Karen Robertshaw of Bayes Coachlines drove the group out.  This is the third time David and Karen have brought a group of students to CUE Haven.

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Also joining us today were Mrs. Jung-Hee Kwan, International Student Advisor at Murrays Bay Intermediate School and Morag Vasilaki and Shanthie Walker, Environmental Educators with the Auckland Council’s Environmental Sustainability Education group.

The plan for the day was to split the students into two groups, one would work with Morag in the nursery potting up seedlings and learning about New Zealand biodiversity while the other group would take a nature walk with Shanthi to learn about the CUE Haven restoration project and to understand how planting and pest control help the environment.  The groups would then switch so that each group had a chance to do both activities.

The group arrived at ten and we started off with morning tea and a brief introduction to the CUE Haven project.  We also gave the students an overview of the activities for the day and a safety briefing.

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Mrs. Kwan then gave the students a brief talk about how different New Zealand is from her native Korea.  She described the much greater population density and the lack of green space in the cities in Korea, and how important it is for us to maintain the clean green open spaces in NZ.

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David then organised the students into their two work groups.  Each group would do one activity and then we would have lunch and switch activities.

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Morag’s group started by transplanting some karaka seedlings into larger containers.  This is very important work because as the seedlings grow, they become too large for their small pots and might even die.

The students learned how to handle potting mix and the proper techniques for planting.

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Both groups did a great job with the potting and in a short time transplanted 65 karaka plants into bigger bags.

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After the groups finished planting, Morag led them in an exercise to learn about the environmental history of New Zealand.  Morag created a timeline which showed the plants and animals and how they were affected throughout history by human activities.

Important milestones included the arrival of the Maori and European settlers because each migration included not only humans but also exotic plants and animals which did not always have a positive impact on native New Zealand species.

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Under Morag’s guidance, the students placed pictures representing events in NZ history on the timeline.

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They then discussed the impact of the various events on native plant and animal life.

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The students then did an exercise to learn more about native New Zealand plants and animals.  Morag attached a card describing a particular NZ tree or animal to each student’s back.  It was a fun activity as the students then had to ask the relevant questions of the other students to try and guess which plant or animal was on their back.

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While one group was in the nursery, the other group went for a long walk through the CUE Haven property.  Shanthie, David and Tom pointed out various aspects of the restoration project and the students got a chance to observe and ask questions.

Before we started on the walk, we explained the problem of kauri dieback disease and we asked the students to spray their shoes with Trigene disinfectant to protect the kauri on the property.

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On the walk, the students learned about the native trees we are planting and about pest plants and animals.  We showed the students why kikuyu grass is a problem, described our weed management practices and explained the difference between annual and perennial weeds.

The students also learned about our animal pest control programme and got a demonstration of how the traps work.

The students had lots of questions which led to interesting discussions about everything from plants and pests to walking track maintenance and electric fences.

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The students learned to identify some important native trees and saw how birds help spread the seeds of trees and therefore help with the forest regeneration.

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And learned how to distinguish manuka and kanuka trees.

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They also helped install a tree identification sign on the walking track.

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We frequently saw some friendly fantails along the track and one group saw a pair of kereru in a kahikatea tree.

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Many of the trees are fruiting now and the students had a chance to learn a little bit about how native trees reproduce and sampled some karamu berries.

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They also had a chance to check out some of the new benches on the walking track that other senior students had built.

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Once all the students had done both activities, David had a short review and debriefing session before the group headed home.  From their responses, it looked like the students had paid attention and learnt a lot.

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We had a great day with the students who were all enthusiastic and interested in learning. And despite the dark overhead clouds the weather stayed fine throughout.

We want to thank Nestle NZ for the Hot Chocolate and iced Peach Nestea which were very much appreciated by everyone. Thanks Nestle!

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And we’d like to thank Karen who has driven all of the Murrays Bay student groups out to CUE Haven and has become a good friend.  Karen participated in all of our activities and even took the time to do some weeding in the nursery!  Thanks, Karen!

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We also want to thank Morag and Shanthie for their excellent programme for the students and for adding a lot of valuable insights. And thanks to Auckland Council for making it possible for them to join us.

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David and Mrs. Kwan, thank you for helping with the days’ activities. And a special thanks to David for his continued interest and support of the CUE Haven project and for organising the visit today.

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And finally, a big thank you to all students.  We had a fun day with you and thank you for helping to pot up the karaka seedlings.  We very much look forward to seeing you all again in July when you return to help plant some trees and learn about water quality management.

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Satya Sai Auckland Regional Group—13 April 2014

April 13, 2014

The Satya Sai Regional Group is a spiritual organisation whose members make a commitment to community service and the group have made many contributions to our project over the years—assisting with planting, painting the nursery and building walking tracks.

Today seven youth members–Ashik, Asmita, Bhaven, Edwin, Keaton, Manish and Raghav came out to CUE Haven to assist us with the wetlands boardwalk project.

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The team arrived just before ten and we got acquainted over morning tea.  We also provided a safety briefing and give the group an overview of the work to be performed.

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We are building the track by fabricating frames which are then laid end to end to form the track.  The challenge is to get them straight and level.  Once the frames are in place, the top planks can be nailed into position.  This is also challenging because allowance has to be made for curves in the track.  The plan for the day was to finish installing the last of the frames and to put down as many planks as possible.

The first task was to get all of the gear up to the work site.  First we loaded up the ute.

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We then went up to the end of the track.  Before we unloaded the timber and equipment however, we went for a walk along the boardwalk so that the team could see the work that had been done and to get a better idea of how the individual tasks related to the overall project.

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We then unloaded the truck and brought down all the materials.

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The group broke into two teams, one would work on installing the frames and the other would work on planking.  Ashik, Bhaven and Raghav decided to work on the frames.

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It was hard work on a hot day.  The job requires studying the layout of the track, figuring out the optimum position of the frame and digging and shaping the ground until the frame will lie evenly on the ground.  The final step checking the level and securing the frame in place with stakes and nails.

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Thanks to the team’s hard work, the last of the frames have now been installed and the track layout is looking great!

In the meantime, Edwin, Keaton and Manish tackled the planking.

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The entire stretch of boardwalk that they started on had curved sections.  As a result, the first task was to determine how to shape the planks so that the track would have a nice, even curve.  This involved planning and measuring and then cutting some of the planks into wedge shapes.

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Once the planks were cut they were nailed into place.  Each plank takes six nails so the team did a lot of hammering!

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And Asmita made sure that the team didn’t run out of timber and also helped with installing the planking.

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After several hours of hard work, the team broke for lunch and we then took a short tour of the property.

We really enjoyed working with the Satya Sai group today.  In a few hours they made a major contribution to the boardwalk project.  Not only did they finish the framing, which means that the end of the project is in sight, they did a beautiful job installing planks on some of the most complex curves on the track.  Also, a big thank you to Manish for his hard work figuring out how to cut the planks for the big curve.

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Our many thanks to the team for their hard work today and for giving up a Sunday to help out. And a special thanks to Keaton for organising the visit.

Thanks to the team’s efforts our boardwalk project is nearing completion.  The boardwalk will be enjoyed and appreciated by visitors to CUE Haven for years to come.  It will give us year round access to the wetlands and enable visitors to see a very interesting part of the property.

We hope you will come back for a relaxing visit with your family and friends and enjoy a leisurely walk on the boardwalk.  Thanks again!

Westlake Girls High School—4 April 2014

April 6, 2014

CUE Haven looks very different today after a group of students in the Gateway programme at Westlake Girls High School finished up the environmental projects they had been working on.

Back in February, teacher Maree O’Leary brought the students out for a day of exploring.  The girls learned about the CUE Haven project, worked in the nursery, helped with our wetlands boardwalk and took a tour of the property.

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Since the visit in February, the girls have been working on designing and developing their projects and today Maree, her colleague Christine Weeks, students Alana, Anna, Brittany, Brooke, Chiffon, Christine, Claudia, Emma, Enya, Georgia, Isabella, Karen, Lucille, Mary Ann, Mitanshu, Rochelle, Sakili, Wairua and parents Dean, Dominique, Jo, John & Wayne came out to present and install the students’ handiwork.

Unfortunately because of work or other commitments, Hope, Kara, Kendall and Olivia could not come out, but all the students teamed up to help out doing the installations regardless of whether they’d worked on the particular project.

Everyone arrived just after nine and we got reacquainted over morning tea.

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We then gave an overview of the work to be done and a safety briefing.

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The students had worked on the following projects at school –

–A tree identification booklet – Sakili and Kendall

–Tree identification signs – Anna, Emma, Isabella and Wairua

–A bird feeder – Olivia and Kara

–A CUE Haven signpost for the front entrance – Claudia and Rochelle

–A directional signpost for the walking track – Brittany and Brooke

–Benches for the walking track – Alana, Christine, Enya, Georgia, Karen, Lucille, Mary Ann, and Mitanshu

Tree Identification Booklet

To further help visitors learn about native New Zealand trees, Sakili and Kendall created a very nice handbook about native trees on the property.

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Unfortunately Kendall couldn’t join us but Sakili presented us the booklet.

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The book is laminated and small enough to fit into a jacket pocket so that visitors can take it out to the field with them. It will be a very useful resource for visitors keen to learn more about some of the native trees at CUE Haven.

 Tree Signs

Anna, Emma, Isabella, Wairua decided to make some tree identification signs to help visitors determine what sorts of trees they are seeing.   They made two signs  each for the following trees:

Kahikatea Dacrycarpus dacrydiodes

Kauri  Agathis australis

NikauRhopalostylis sapida

Puriri  Vitex lucens

Taraire Beilschmiedia taraire

Totara Podocarpus totara

Kanuka Kunzea ericoides

Makomako (Wineberry) Aristotelia serrata

Ti kouka (Cabbage tree) Cordyline australis

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We installed several of the signs along the walking track.

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The signs are a great addition to the walking track and CUE Haven’s educational focus.

The remaining students’ projects (signs and benches) were being installed in different parts of the property and had to be cemented in place.  So the day’s work presented a bit of a logistical challenge. That meant we had to carry tools and equipment into the bush over quite a distance and it also meant that several teams would be working in several different locations simultaneously.

We had previously delivered water and gravel for the cement up to the work sites and also each team was given a tool kit with spades, spirit levels and other tools they would be needing.  Several parents and Maree also brought tools and equipment which proved invaluable throughout the day.

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The group broke up into teams to work on the various installations.

Entry Sign

Claudia and Rochelle worked on installing the CUE Haven sign they had built.  They were assisted by Dominique and Wayne.  The sign was placed at the entrance to the property and will be a great help for future visitors.

The first task was to select a spot for the sign, clear the area and dig a deep hole for the post.

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Then the upright post was installed and double checked to make sure it was straight and then the post was set in cement.

While the cement was drying, Claudia and Rochelle surprised us all by weeding and tidying up the whole area by the front gate. Thank you so much!!

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Once the cement was dry, the cross beam was installed.  It will have to take a lot of weight so a heavy duty bracket was used.

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The final step is installing the sign itself.

Claudia and Rochelle had selected a beautiful piece of wood on to which they etched the CUE Haven logo. They had also lacquered the wood to keep it from weathering too much. The sign looks absolutely amazing.  The words on the sign will be darkened so they are more readily visible by the passing vehicles and Claudia and Rochelle will do that over the next few days.

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We are thrilled to have this beautiful sign to alert visitors that they are at their destination.  It is a great enhancement to the property—and much better than the balloons we used to have to tie to the front gate!

Bird Feeder

As the restoration of the CUE Haven property has progressed, we have been thrilled to see an increase in bird life.  Olivia and Kara decided to build a bird feeder to attract birds year round and we wanted to install it within view of the cottage so that visitors could enjoy the birds coming to feed.

Unfortunately, Olivia and Kara couldn’t be with us but the rest of the team installed the bird feeder on their behalf.

The first job was to dig the hole for the post.

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Then the post was installed, cemented in place and checked to ensure it was straight.

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Maree then helped the girls install the feeders.  They are filled with diluted sugar water.  Over time we will dilute the sugar water even more because we only want to attract birds for visitors to enjoy rather than make the bird feeder a significant artificial food source.  We still want the birds to find food naturally in the bush.

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Thank you Olivia and Kara for your lovely bird feeder which makes use of recycled materials.  We hope you will be able to come out and see it—and see some tui and silvereyes enjoying it as well!

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Directional Sign

Our long term plan is to have a network of walking tracks throughout the property so that visitors can enjoy the bush.  We already have several intersecting paths and Brittany and Brooke decided to make a directional signpost at one of the major intersections to help visitors find their way.

Installing the sign was a challenge because not only did they need to dig a deep hole and cement the post in place, they also had to align each of the directional signs at the correct angles.

Brittney, Brooke and Georgia worked with Jo and John to install the sign post and the team brought all the equipment to the work site.

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The first task was to determine where exactly to put the sign and clear the area.

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And then to dig the hole. The hole needed to be extra deep to ensure the sign would be secure.

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Then the individual signs needed to be attached to the post.  This required some planning because they had to be attached so that they would point in the correct direction when the sign was finally in place.

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Once the pointer signs were in the correct position, the post was installed and secured with concrete.

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The sign will not only help future visitors, but it is also a beautiful addition to the landscape.

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Benches

Alana, Chiffon, Christine, Enya, Georgia, Karen, Lucille, Mary Ann, and Mitanshu had designed and constructed four attractive and sturdy benches and these would be installed along the walking tracks.

Sakili, Anna, Emma, Isabella and Wairua  assisted the group with the bench installation and the team worked with Christine, Dean and Maree

Installing the benches was a real challenge.  First, they were widely spaced along the walking track, which meant that the benches themselves, plus the equipment (including 25kg bags of cement) had to be carried into the bush.

Not only that, each bench presented a different set of challenges depending on the location—some were on sloping ground so the ground had to be levelled and others were in areas where the soil was particularly hard to dig into.

But the girls coped very well with these challenges and each bench was perfectly placed where it is sure to get a lot of use—and future hikers on the walking track will be grateful!

One bench was placed next to the directional sign because that section of the track has some beautiful old puriri trees and also some nice views of the Kaipara Harbour.  The bench was positioned so that visitors can enjoy the bush, the views or rest while they make up their mind which way to go!

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A second bench was installed near the top of the property along a long set of steps on the track. Because of the slope of the ground, it was first necessary to cut out the soil so the bench would sit on reasonably level ground.

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Once the ground was level, the holes for the bench legs were dug.

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The bench was then moved into position and the level checked for accuracy.

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The last step was cementing the legs into the ground.

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The other two benches were installed further along the stream gully walking track.

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The benches are a fantastic addition to the walking track and they will be appreciated by visitors for many years to come.

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It was a really hot autumn day and the team took a short lunch break and then resumed working for another couple of hours.

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During the break they also got acquainted with some of the neighbours!

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We’d like to thank Nestle New Zealand for providing Iced Peach Nestea and Nescafe Menu sachets for the team.  Thanks Nestle! The drinks were very much appreciated by all.

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By 2 p.m. all the signs and benches had been installed and when the group left, CUE Haven had been enhanced by their wonderful projects.

We want to hugely thank teacher Maree O’Leary for choosing CUE Haven as a place for the Westlake Girls School to do their projects and for getting the students enthusiatic about an environmental conservation project.

Our many thanks to the accompanying adults – Christine, Dean, Dominique, Jo, John and Wayne -We’ve really enjoyed working with you—your assistance today has been invaluable.

And most of all we want to thank the students for their hard work in dreaming up, desiging and creating their projects and coming out to install them. We are very impressed with the quality of your project work and with the excellent installation work.  You have all made a major contribution to CUE Haven and the work you have done will be enjoyed by visitors for many years to come.  THANK YOU!!

We hope you will come back for a relaxing visit and to enjoy your handiwork!

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Community Volunteer Day–23 March 2014

March 24, 2014

Today we held an open day for friends and members of the community to come out to CUE Haven and help out with potting up in the nursery and to work on the wetlands boardwalk track.

We had a leisurely morning tea as people arrived and got to work just before ten. The group included Anihet, Anne, Anuradha, Asmita, Bharathy, Dalu, Dheeraj, Dyer, Espe, Firusa, Hansha, Hormuz, Jith, Keaton, Kevin, Meera, Neesha, Niki, Prashant, Sai, Sarah, Shams, Sidah, Stephen, Sumit, Suraj, Tanaz, Vilashini, and Vishram.

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We spent a few minutes welcoming everyone and giving them an overview of the work to be done and also gave a safety briefing.

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The nursery work involved transplanting seedlings into larger pots.  The potting up work is very important as the seedlings outgrow their pots and can become root bound which will impede further growth or even kill the plant.  Anne, Niki, Sarah and Shams volunteered for the task and Anuradha joined them in their efforts for part of the day.

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Together they transplanted 400 pidgeonwood and totara seedlings which will be planted in the ground next year. Thanks!

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The rest of the group decided to work on the wetlands boardwalk.  The work involved building boardwalk support frames, levelling the ground and securing the frames in place and lastly, nailing wire mesh to the finished portions of the boardwalk so that it won’t be slippery when wet.   Kevin, who has worked on the boardwalk since we started the project, worked on finishing off corners.

Before we got to work, we loaded up the ute with the tools, equipment and timber so we could carry it up to the start of the track.

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We then went up to the track, but before we unloaded the truck we took a walk through the finished and unfinished sections of the track.  This gave the team an idea of the scope of the boardwalk project and gave them a chance to see the work already done and to get an understanding of what work they would be doing.

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The team then unloaded the truck and carried the materials down to the work area.

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As there were several different tasks that needed to be done, the group broke into three teams, but people moved between teams so they had a chance to do different tasks.

One team assembled five two metre by one metre boardwalk frames.  This was an amazing accomplishment because building the frames involves nailing heavy boards together to create the box frame.  Shifting the boards around, holding them in place and then pounding in heavy nails is a real challenge, especially when the ground is uneven.

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In spite of these challenges, the group did a great job coming up with an effective system to build the frames.  They also achieved a major milestone because they built the last of the five frames we needed for the boardwalk track.

As the frames were completed, they were brought down to the track area and laid in place.

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The frames are now ready to be fixed in place by future teams.  It was hard work and everyone deserved a break.

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The other task was equally challenging.  The surface of the boardwalk needs to be even and level, but the ground where we are installing it is anything but!  Once the frames are finished they are laid in place and then the ground and the layout have to be studied to determine the best way for the frame to be levelled.  It can be a tedious and frustrating job because sometimes correcting one corner makes another corner crooked.

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In spite of the challenges, the team did a great job levelling the ground and securing four frames in place.  Future teams will finish them off with the top surface planking.

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Another job involved stapling wire mesh to the finished parts of the track.  Because the boardwalk will be used year round there are times when it may be wet and slippery.  The wire mesh will ensure that future users have secure footing.

This was another task that might look easy at first but has hidden complications.  First, the wire mesh rolls have to be unrolled and measured against the actual contours of the track.  When the track bends, it is necessary to trim the mesh and fill in any gaps.

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The team made good progress and finished off installing mesh over 65 metres of track.

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When the track curves, the frames must be laid at an angle which creates a wedge-shaped gap. Kevin cut out specially made boards to fill in the gaps between several boardwalk sections and create a nice flow.

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After a morning of hard work the team broke for a late lunch and spent some time socialising.

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Espe, Firusa, Hormuz, Kevin and Tanaz stayed on after lunch to continue working on the track and Anne, Niki, Sarah and Shams also continued working in the nursery until late in the afternoon.

The other volunteers had to leave after lunch but have volunteered to come back to help finish off the boardwalk :) !

It was a very successful day and we are thrilled with all that the group accomplished.

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Our heartfelt thanks to everyone for giving up their Sunday and coming out to help..  You were a fantastic group to work with.  Thanks to all your efforts, the end of the wetlands boardwalk project is in sight and the nursery is now ready for winter.

A special thank you to Keaton for enlisting the help of several of his friends and a big thank you to Kevin for helping out again and giving us the benefit of his skills and expertise.

We look forward to seeing you all again to try out the finished track and see the progress of the project.  Thanks again!

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Conservation Volunteers—19 March 2014

March 20, 2014

Today a group of international volunteers were at CUE Haven to help work on the wetlands boardwalk project.

The team arrived before 8:30 and included Aiko, Basile, Hironori, Pablo, Remi, Ruben, Selina, Thomas, Yannik and Yuki.  It was a truly international team, with representatives from Belgium, Germany, Japan and Switzerland.  Ashleigh of Conservation Volunteers New Zealand was the team leader.

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We spent a few minutes getting acquainted and giving the team an overview of the CUE Haven project and the work to be done today.

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The planned work for the day involved building boardwalk frames and securing them in place and also building a small bridge over a stream that is dry during the summer months.

The first task involved loading up the tools, equipment and timber into the ute so we could carry it up to the start of the track.

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We then went up to the track, but before we unloaded the truck we took a walk through the finished and unfinished sections of the track.  This gave the team an idea of the scope of the boardwalk project and gave them a chance to see the work already done and to get an understanding of what work they would be doing.

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We then unloaded the truck and carried the materials down to the work area.

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As there were several different tasks that needed to be done, the group broke into three teams.

The first team spent all day on the very challenging task of assembling the boardwalk frames.  It involved a lot of nailing, which is something that you need a lot of practice to be good at.  The team got a lot of practice!

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Aiko, Ashleigh, Selina and Yuki became very proficient with the hammer and nails and constructed five excellent frames within a few hours—fantastic effort!!

Basile, Pablo, Remi and Hiro worked on connecting up the two finished sections of track. This too was a challenging job because the ground is very uneven and damp.  The team first had to build two frames and then level the ground so that their frames matched up with the ones already installed and were straight and level.

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The two frames now join up the two previously completed sections of track and are nicely even and aligned and ready for the next group of volunteers to finish off with top planks.

Ruben, Thomas and Yannik worked on the bridge.  Because it would be a relatively short bridge we decided to build the frame first.  It could then be used as a guide to position the footer posts accurately.

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After the frame was finished, it was moved to the bridge site and positioned.

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Once the position of the bridge was determined, the holes for the support posts were dug.  We were using recycled fence posts.

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The posts needed to be cemented in place and the team put on appropriate safety gear!

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Each post was fixed in place using quick drying cement.

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After lunch, the cement had dried and we cut off the tops of the posts and then fixed the frame securely to the posts.

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The last step was to install cross braces to add to the strength and stability of the bridge.  Future teams will install the top finishing planks.

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The bridge will ensure that future visitors will be able to use the boardwalk year round even when the stream is flowing.

It was a very hot day and the team took two breaks.  One for morning tea and one for lunch.  After lunch, before going back to work, we went for a tour of the property to give the group a better idea of how their work fits into the CUE Haven restoration project.

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We took a walk through the Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award Grove where the group saw some of the work that had been done by the students.

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We also took a walk on the gully walking track and the group helped us out by harvesting some kahikatea seeds which we will cultivate and eventually plant on the property.

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And they made friends with a New Zealand stick insect.

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We very much enjoyed working with this group.  They were enthusiastic and hard working and fun.  They accomplished an amazing amount of work and set a new record for number of boardwalk frames built by a volunteer group in one day.  Future groups will install the frames and plank the tops as we complete the project.

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We’d like to thank Conservation Volunteers NZ for making the team available for the day and we also want to thank Ashleigh—you are an excellent team leader and we enjoyed working with you.

And most of all we want to thank the hard working volunteers.  You made a major contribution to the wetlands boardwalk project and the boardwalk will be used—and appreciated—by visitors to CUE Haven for many years to come.

We really appreciate your efforts and we hope you enjoy your stay in New Zealand and wish you all the best in your future endeavours.  We hope you will come back to CUE Haven to see your work and to see the progress since your visit.

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FleetPartners—7 March 2014

March 9, 2014

FleetPartners NZ is a leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company based in Auckland.  Today a group of corporate staff and family members spent a fun and productive day at CUE Haven.  Also joining us for the day was our good friend, Doug Bayer who is a regular volunteer at CUE Haven.

The group arrived shortly after nine.  The FleetPartners team included Chris, Daniel, Gail and Viv as well as Gail’s partner Paul and Viv’s daughter Sian.

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We got acquainted over morning tea and gave the group an overview of the project, the work to be done and a safety briefing.

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Doug volunteered to work in the nursery and help with potting up the seedlings into bigger pots. The potting up work is very important as the seedlings outgrow their pots and can become root bound which will impede further growth or even kill the plant.

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Doug’s new nickname is “The Machine” because in just a couple of hours he managed to transplant over 100 trees from the potting tubes into the bigger bags!

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Meanwhile, Tom and the FleetPartners group went down to the wetlands to work on the boardwalk.

The team did a short walk on the completed sections of the boardwalk to see the finished product and then took a tour of the unfinished section so they could plan their work.

The first task was to transport the timber and tools to the work site.

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The FleetPartners team was working in one of the most challenging sections of the track.  The section starts with a steep drop down to a very wet area and then another steep section back up to a drier section.  The team’s task was to cut steps at both ends of the section and to build boardwalk frames to connect the steps in the low area.

They broke into two teams–one worked on the steps and the other worked on the boardwalk frames—but because everyone cooperated so well, members regularly switched teams to help each other out with different tasks.

Building the steps is a real challenge.  It is necessary to study the terrain to determine how many steps are necessary to ensure that future users of the track will be easily able to negotiate the steps.  Once the step layout is determined, they are cut out and secured with frames, pegs and nails.

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The end result is very professional looking steps that will be enjoyed (and appreciated) by visitors to CUE Haven for many years to come.

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Building the boardwalk frames involved assembling them from heavy timber, and then pegging them into the ground after ensuring that everything is straight and level.

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One of the biggest challenges is fitting the boardwalk sections to curves in the track.  This required lots of measuring and cutting, and the team’s results were excellent.

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The group was so enthusiastic that they ended up breaking for lunch about an hour late!  But as a result, they got a lot done. In spite of wet and slippery conditions, the team did a fantastic job, building two very nice sets of steps as well as some complicated turns in the boardwalk sections.

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After the late lunch, we went for a tour of the property.

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It was a great end to a wonderfully productive day and we have a lot of people to thank.

Doug, thank you very much for your hard work and enthusiasm for the project.  We really appreciate your continued support and it’s always great to have you out to CUE Haven.

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A big thank you to Chris for championing CUE Haven to his colleagues at  FleetPartners and making the day happen.

And a very special thank you to the hardworking team.  You were great to work with and we very much look forward to having you back.

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Westlake Girls High School—22 February 2014

February 23, 2014

Westlake Girls High School on Auckland’s North Shore is one of New Zealand’s largest girl’s schools.  School teacher Maree O’Leary contacted us about having some of the Year 12 and 13 Gateway Class students do projects at CUE Haven.

The plan was to have an orientation day for the students to learn about CUE Haven and to give the girls a chance to think about activities they might like to do as part of a class project.

Shortly after 9.30 on Saturday morning, Maree arrived with students Brittany, Brooke,  Chiffon, Christine, Claudia, Enya, Hope, Julie, Karen, Kendall, Mary Ann, Mitanshu, Rochelle, Summer and Taylor, and parents Alison, Anjila, Dominique, Hari, Jo, Nicci and Wayne.

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We started out with morning tea and gave the group an overview of the CUE Haven project, the plan for the day and safety issues.

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We then went for a long walk around the property to give the students a better feel for the project.  We explained the forest restoration work, weed and pest control, wetlands management, walking track construction and maintenance and native birds and plants.  We also took some time to harvest seeds from the mature puriri and kahikatea trees along the walking track.

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We also took a walk through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Grove to show the girls some of the art work and projects that other students have done.

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While the group was out on the walk, four other students – Anna, Emma, Isabella and Wairua arrived.  They had relied on their GPS for directions, but as we do not have mobile reception in the area, the GPS signal often gets scrambled and took the girls to a totally different destination. Fortunately the girls persevered and managed to get to CUE Haven an hour later.

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It was too late for them to join the walk so they went to work in the nursery potting up some seedlings.  The seedlings had been delivered from the nursery in their germination tubes and it is necessary to transplant them to larger pots so they have room to grow. This work is very important because the seedlings grow very fast and quickly outgrow the little pots they start out in.  If they are not given more room, they become root bound and will either not have healthy growth and can even die.

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After the walk the group had a light snack and talked a little bit about ideas the girls had as a result of what they had seen.

It was a really hot and humid day and the refreshing Iced Peach Nestea generously sponsored by Nestle was much appreciated. Thanks Nestle!

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Then, the students who had been on the walk got some hands on experience in the nursery.  And the girls who had already done the potting up demonstrated the work to be done.

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The group then went to work and transplanted many rimu, titoki, kohekohe seedlings.

We would like to thank Daltons for generously providing their excellent premium potting mix that we used for today’s planting.

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The girls also got acquainted with some of the creatures who share the nursery with the plants.

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In the meantime, the four students who had arrived later and worked in the nursery while the group was out walking, went out to the field and helped install some steps on the wetland walking track.

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In addition to a couple of very professional looking steps, they also added some flax flowers to the landscape:

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The group left about 12.30 p.m. The plan now is for the students to take a couple of days to think about what they saw and did on their visit and to work on project ideas.  They will come back for a day later next month with their project work.

We’d like to thank Maree for her interest in the CUE Haven project and for organising the day.  It was a pleasure meeting and working with the students and we look forward to your next visit.  Also, thank you to the parents who joined us for the day and added their support.  We look forward to having you back, too.

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