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Installation of Unitec Graphic Design Educational Signs

October 15, 2014

Late last year a group of talented Graphic Design students from Unitec visited CUE Haven as part of a course work assignment to identify innovative applications of visual communication to enhance visitors’ experiences.  After their visit the students took some time to develop their ideas and then invited us to their studio at Unitec to see what they had come up with.

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We were very impressed by the quality and creativity of the students’ designs and really wanted to have some of their designs converted into actual signs to be installed at CUE Haven.

Unitec provided a grant for a beautiful inspirational sign designed by student Paige Keene, which was produced by Capitol Signs Services Ltd and installed at CUE Haven.

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We applied to the Auckland Council’s Rodney Environmental Education Fund and secured a grant to have some additional signs made.

It was a hard decision considering all the fantastic designs that the students had created, but we finally selected nine signs with an educational focus designed by students Louise Thacker and Yan Heere.

Louise’s work focused on the hidden creatures that visitors to CUE Haven might encounter – Puriri moth, Stick Insect, Kokopu, etc.

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And Yan’s signs communicated information about birds that visitors are likely to see at CUE Haven – Tui, Fantail, Kereru (NZ Wood pigeon), Waxeye/Silvereye, Morepork (NZ Owl), Grey Warbler, etc.

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The nine designs were sent to Capitol Sign Services Ltd to be costed. The designs were quite complex and based on the costs we only had just enough funding to get seven designs made up into actual signs, so we settled on the seven signs.

A couple of weeks ago we went to Capitol Sign Services Ltd to collect the signs and were simply blown away when the staff at Capitol Signs – Matthew, Stephen and Paula presented us with all the nine signs that Louise and Yan had designed. The additional signs were their contribution to the CUE Haven project. WOW!!

Not only did they generously make the two additional signs, but they also provided the posts on which the signs are mounted and devised a very simple and secure system for attaching the signs to the posts.  They even developed a coding system to make sure we got the right sign on the right post ! Thank you so much – what a fantastic surprise!

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Over the past two weeks all nine signs have been installed at CUE Haven.

Six of the signs were installed by some of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award gold award participants during their residential during the week of Sept 30th.

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And the last three signs were installed by some of the staff from ANZ Bank who were volunteering for the day on October 10th.

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The signs are a fantastic addition to the CUE Haven landscape and will be enjoyed and appreciated by visitors for years to come.

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We want to thank Unitec for their support of our project.  We were truly impressed by the talent and creativity of the students and we look forward to continuing to work with Unitec staff and students across a variety of disciplines.

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A big thank you to Auckland Council for providing the grant to have these wonderful educational signs made.

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Our many thanks to Capitol Sign Services Ltd.  It was a pleasure working with you all and we are very grateful for your support and generosity.  We look forward having you visit CUE Haven to see the signs and to work with you again on other projects.

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Many thanks to the DoEHA gold award participants – Brigid, Kalym, Lauren and Tyrell  and ANZ professionals  – Andrew, Bion, Katherine and Simon for their hard work carrying bags of cement, water and the heavy signs deep into the bush to install the signs in just the right place.

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And most of all, a BIG THANK YOU to Louise and Yan for their wonderful signs.  We really appreciate all the extra work you did to get the signs ready for production.  We are proud to have your work at CUE Haven and we wish you much success in your future endeavours.

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This sign project is particularly special to us because it is an example of what we want CUE Haven to be—a place where the community can come together, work together and create something for everyone to enjoy.  This project was a cooperative effort among all of our community groups—education, corporate, government and community volunteers.

Our many thanks again to everyone involved!!

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ANZ New Zealand—10 October 2014

October 11, 2014
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ANZ New Zealand is one of New Zealand’s largest companies and one of its largest banks.  They have a strong commitment to corporate responsibility and community service and through their volunteering programme they encourage staff to volunteer their skills and time to community projects.  Today sixteen ANZ professionals from the Auckland CBD Commercial division visited CUE Haven to help out with some maintenance projects.

The group arrived first thing in the morning and included Andrew M, Andrew S, Bion, Charlotte, Dean, Harriet, Ian, Jasmin, Katherine, Laura, Logan, Maria, Paul, Phil G, Phil W and Simon.

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This was the second year in a row that ANZ staff have come out to CUE Haven and it was great to see some old friends as well as some new faces.  We spent some time chatting over morning tea and Mahrukh then gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and Tom gave a safety briefing and overview of the work plan for the day.

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The planting season is over, and spring means cleaning up after winter storms and rains. We split the group into two and one team went with Tom to work on some remedial work on the walking track.

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And the other team stayed down with Mahrukh to do weeding and mulching in the orchard and around the cottage and car park.

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The track team drove up to the start of the walking track and then walked down, clearing and fixing the track as needed.

The primary job was to clear away weeds that had grown over the track and the team used rakes and spades and hands to clear the vegetation.

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There is a spot on the track that has never quite drained properly and is wet even in summer.  The team studied the problem and decided that a drainage ditch to a nearby pipe might be the solution.  They dug a big ditch along several metres of the track and it immediately started to show some improvement.

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The next challenge the team tackled was an area of the track that went over an underground stream.  There were small, shallow tomo (sink holes) on either side of the track and although the track has been stable, we are concerned about the tomo getting larger in the future and destabilising the land bridge.

The solution the team came up with was to build a small wooden bridge to place over the land bridge.

While the rest of the team continued clearing vegetation, Bion and Simon went down to the nursery/workshop to construct the structure.

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We brought it up to the site and the team dug out the area where the bridge would be installed.

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Once it was fitted in place it was secured with stakes.

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The last task the team handled was fixing up a drain pipe that had been blocked resulting in a small washout on the track.  They dug up the pipe, cleared it, dug a larger sump and re-installed the pipe.

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In just a few hours the team gave the track an amazing makeover that will make the track safer and more enjoyable for visitors for years to come.  Thank you for all your hard work!

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While the track team was busy, the team down by the house was working equally hard weeding and spreading mulch.   A few days ago Treescape NZ had generously supplied a truck load of mulch.

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The first task for the team was to clear away some of the weeds that had grown up during the mild winter.

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Once the worst of the weeds were out of the way, the team spread the mulch.

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It was really hard working outdoors on a hot humid day but the team kept moving….

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… till they had spread all 10 cubic metres of mulch!

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The improvement is amazing and we can’t thank the team enough for their efforts.

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Both groups finished up with the tasks shortly about 1 pm but we asked if anyone would like to help us install three signs along the walking track.  It wasn’t in the original work plan, but Andrew S, Bion, Katherine, Maria and Simon volunteered to help.

We spent an hour putting in the signs as it involved carrying bags of cement and cans of water along with tools and the signs deep into the bush.  It was hard work but the signs are a great addition to the CUE Haven landscape. Thanks very much.

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We then broke for a relaxing and well deserved lunch.

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We want to thank Nestle NZ for providing Nescafe Menu coffees and the very refreshing iced Nestea for the team to enjoy.  And thank you to Treescape for providing the mulch.

A special thank you to Bion for organising the day, and a huge thank you to everyone for all your hard work today.  We very much enjoyed working with you and getting to know you. You accomplished so much more than we had expected and we are truly grateful.

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We hope you will come back for a more relaxed visit soon.

Thanks again!

Duke Of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Residential – 29 September–3 October 2014

October 5, 2014

This week nine Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award gold award participants had a fun and productive residential week at CUE Haven.  The group arrived on Monday morning and included Ben, Brigid, Charlotte, Kalym, Lauren, Lizanne, Nuobelle, Savi and Tyrell.  Kalym had attended a DoEHA residential at CUE Haven earlier in the year and it was great to have him back this time as the team leader.

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The team arrived on Monday morning and we got acquainted over morning tea.  Mahrukh gave an orientation and overview about the CUE Haven project and Tom and Andy Woodhouse, DoEHA’s National Director of Training, gave an overview of the plan for the week and safety issues.

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We then went for a short tour of the property so that the group could see the DoEHA Grove and get a better idea of where they would be working.

After lunch we started out with some maintenance work.  Previous teams have built a walking track through the Grove and it requires regular maintenance, especially after wet winter weather.  The group spread out along the track and trimmed away vegetation, smoothed out rough spots and improved some areas to make them safer.  The work included cutting some new steps and boxing them up.

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The DoEHA team that had come out in July had planted a large number of trees in the Grove and this team also spent some time weeding around the trees to make sure they will have plenty of room to grow.

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Last year a team started a large mosaic of the DoEHA logo at one of the entrances to the Grove.  They had finished the main part of the mosaic and subsequent groups have done additional maintenance work.  The current plan is to finish off the mosaic by securing it with a brick frame and doing some additional stone work around the perimeter.  The team in July had dug out the foundation for the brick frame and this team lined the frame with concrete to form a base for the bricks which will be laid next year.

The first thing the team did was dig a drainage ditch to empty the water that had accumulated in the foundation ring.

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In the meantime another group worked on breaking up marble to create the tiles for the next section of mosaic that will be laid down by the next DoEHA team.

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The mosaic is located at the far end of the Grove and far away from a driving road.  As a result, it was necessary to bring down all of the concrete and other materials by hand.

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Once all the concrete, builders mix, water and tools were on site the concrete was mixed up in batches.

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It was then poured into the trench.

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Once the first layer was in, some metal reinforcing rods were put in.

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And then the final batch of concrete was mixed and poured.

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The concrete layer was smoothed out and is now ready for the brick work.

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The next task was to construct a path around the mosaic to connect the DoEHA track to the main CUE Haven track.  This involved fixing the drainage and smoothing and clearing the track.

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There is a small drainage ditch running along the side of the main track and the team was concerned that visitors will have to step over the ditch and it might be dangerous, so they decided to build a small bridge over the ditch.

They took some measurements and then went down to the nursery to design and build the bridge.

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The planks were cut to size and nailed together and covered with wire mesh so that the bridge wouldn’t be slippery when wet.

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It was then taken up to the site and installed over the ditch.  The bridge is a great addition to the track and will make the walk safer for future visitors.

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The team also tackled one of the most creative and challenging tasks yet.  There are four main entrances to the DoEHA Grove and in order to mark the entrances and welcome visitors, the team decided to put up carved posts at each entrance.  This team worked on three posts and the other posts will be done by future DoEHA teams.

The team broke into groups of three and each group designed and carved their own post.  The only requirement was that each post include the DoEHA logo.

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The groups added birds, plants and insects and carved their names on their posts.  Each is a beautiful and unique addition to the Grove.

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Once the carving was finished, the teams tackled the challenging job of installing them.

The posts and cement, water and tools were all taken up to the Grove.  The most difficult was the post at the entrance by the mosaic because it had to be carried the farthest.

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They then had to dig some very large and deep holes.

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Then each post was manoeuvred into position and cemented in place.

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And each team posed with the post they had carved.

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The group decided that the bare poles didn’t stand out enough so gave them each a paint job.

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Earlier in the week the team members also helped us install some signs outside of the DoEHA Grove.  It was good practice for putting in the posts!

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While installing a sign under an old puriri tree some of the group decided that it was just begging to be climbed!

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The signs look great and we really appreciate the team helping us out.

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The group had already accomplished everything planned for the week but late on Thursday they decided that they wanted to also leave their mark in the form of benches for the walking track.  They broke into two groups—The A Team and the Z Team!

The Z team had tested out the bench in the hut at the top of the DoEHA track and decided that it was not too comfortable.  They decided to redesign their own bench.

The new bench presented a challenge because they wanted to account for the curved walls of the hut while making the bench as wide as possible.

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They came up with a great design that looks and feels just right.

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In the meantime, the A Team decided to do a bench for the area by the mosaic.  They made a wide chair complete with arms.

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Both teams carved their names in their respective benches and both benches will be enjoyed and appreciated by visitors to CUE Haven for many years to come.

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And before the group left on Friday they cleaned up the cottage and the nursery/workshop.

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Then they headed back to the DoEHA Grove and assisted Kalym, Lauren, Lizanne and Tyrell plant celebration totara and puriri trees to mark their 18th birthdays this month. Happy Birthday and many more!!

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We really enjoyed working with this team.  They were full of energy and great ideas and came together as a team very quickly and accomplished an amazing amount of work.

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We want to thank Kalym for leading the team this week.  It was great to have you back and your leadership was one of the things that helped make this such a successful week.  We wish you all the best in your future studies and hope to have you back to CUE Haven again.

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And a special thank you to Andy Woodhouse.  Your support and ideas are invaluable and we really appreciate your involvement.

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

And most of all our many thanks to the hard working team.  It was great meeting you all and we wish you all the best with completing your gold awards and with your future endeavours.  You have all made important contributions to the CUE Haven project that will last for years.  We hope you will bring your friends and families and come visit us again. And of course it would be great to have you all back as team leaders for future DoEHA gold residential at CUE Haven.

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CUE Haven Gets A Face Lift—27 September 2014

September 28, 2014

Our friend Dianne, who lives over two hours away from CUE Haven in the southern outskirts of Auckland, asked if she could bring up a group of her family and friends to visit CUE Haven.  According to Dianne, the objective was to relax and explore and help out a bit.

The group arrived on Thursday afternoon and included Anna, Chook, Dianne, Iloa, Julia, Julz, Kate and Robyn.

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We got acquainted over afternoon tea and then took the group for a walk around the property.

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The group stayed overnight at CUE Haven and when we returned mid morning on Friday to see the group off we didn’t recognise the place!  They had weeded the entire area in front of the house and in the orchard, spread bark mulch and even built a small retaining wall along the driveway.

They were still busy at work and our nephews Yazdy and Xerxes who had come up with us for the day joined in.

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This is how the area looked before the group went to work.

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And this is how it looks now!

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What a transformation!! We can’t get over the difference and can’t thank the group enough for all their hard work!

We also would like to thank Treescape NZ for their continued support and the generous donation of the mulch.

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And thank you to Yazdy and Xerxes who gave up the first day of their school holidays to help out.

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A big thank you to Dianne for organising the visit. And our many thanks to everyone who came along.  It was great meeting you all and getting to know you.  We really appreciate your hard work and the major contribution you’ve made to the CUE Haven project.  We hope you will come back to see us again soon!

Thanks again!!

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Installation of First Inspirational Sign —21 September 2014

September 21, 2014

Late last year, a group of second year Graphic Arts students from Unitec came out to CUE Haven as part of a project to develop visual communication using words and text to enhance the experiences of visitors to CUE Haven.

The students came up with so many wonderful ideas that although the designs were for their class assessment, we wanted to have some of the signs made and installed on the property.

One of the most unique concepts was designed by Paige Keene who developed several signs around inspirational ideas based on the name, CUE Haven.  CUE stands for “Cultivating Understanding and Enlightenment” and Paige came up with the idea of a little “CUE Birdie” who would guide visitors as they explore the property.

The letters “C,” “U,” “E” form the eye, wing and tail of the bird and in Paige’s concept plan the bird would appear on signs throughout the property to “guide visitors as a messenger communicating philosophical and inspirational ideas.”

Thanks to a grant from Unitec, one of Paige’s signs was made up by Capitol Sign Services  Ltd., and the sign is both beautiful and inspiring.

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Today we installed the sign at a point on the walking track where visitors will see it clearly and by a bench where they can sit down and relax and think about the message on the sign.  Paige came out with her father Steve and friend Leon who helped with the installation.

We took the sign and equipment down to the site and selected what we thought was an ideal spot for the sign.

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Unfortunately, after just a couple of centimetres of soft soil, the ground was rock hard.  In fact, it was rock!

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So we brought in reinforcements in the form of the post hole borer.

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Even the augur wouldn’t put a significant dent in the hard impacted clay, so we decided to move over to the other side of the track.

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Conditions were a little better but we still needed the augur to dig a hole of the necessary size.

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Once the hole was dug it was a relatively simple job to cement the post in place.

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And Leon did an adventurous trip to the stream nearby to get more water!

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The sign is installed in a perfect location and looks great.

Coincidently, Paige’s sign is by a bench which was made and installed earlier this year by a couple of students participating in the Gateway program at Westlake Girls High School.  We found out today that Paige is an alumnus of Westlake Girls High School!

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We want to thank Unitec for their support of the CUE Haven project and for allowing their very talented students to get involved and make such a valuable contribution.

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And we want to thank the nice people at Capitol Sign Services Ltd., who have been extremely helpful and supporting in getting the signs made up.

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A special thank you to Steve and Leon for their very hard work to get the sign installed today.

And most of all we want to thank Paige for her beautiful sign.  It is a wonderful addition to the CUE Haven landscape and will inspire visitors for years to come.  Paige graduates from the Unitec School of Design this November and we wish her much success in her future endeavours with Pudge Designs and hope we can use more of her work.  Thanks!

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Kiwi Aversion Training for Dogs—14 September, 2014

September 15, 2014

Kiwi are New Zealand’s national bird and being flightless, are seriously endangered by introduced predators.  Only five percent of kiwi chicks born in the wild survive because of predators and ninety-five percent of those killed are killed by either dogs or cats.

In 2013 and 2014, our neighbours, Gill & Kevin Adshead released nearly forty Northland Brown kiwi on their property – Mataia.  These kiwi releases mean that there are kiwi by the Kaipara Harbour for the first time in over fifty years.  There is an extensive predator control program at Mataia and also a no dogs policy.

Gill and Kevin are keen conservationists and want to see kiwi flourish in our local area. They therefore took the initiative to organise a kiwi aversion training program for the dogs in our neighbourhood.  Because dogs are not permitted at Mataia, we gladly agreed to host the training at CUE Haven.

Aversion training involves making dogs want to avoid any kiwi that they encounter.  Today’s program was sponsored by the Department of Conservation and run by kiwi ranger, Pete Graham.

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Gill and Kevin had contacted a number of neighbours with dogs and invited them to the training and Pete also invited some people who had contacted the Department of Conservation requesting aversion training for their dogs.

Today seventeen dogs came along for training.

Trouble–Labradoodle

Jack and Sky—Huntaway/Eyedog X

Rex, Mika – German Shepherd Pointer

Blue–Hungarian Vizsla

Murphy, Maddie, Meg and Lucy–Border Collies

Gabby, Rosie –German Shepherd Rue–Border Collie/Labrador X

Biscuit–Terrier X

Jet–American Bulldog/Greyhound X

B.A.–Whippet/Bulldog X

Star–Australian Cattle Dog X

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Aversion training is widespread throughout New Zealand.  In order to get a hunting license to hunt deer, pigs or goats in certain locations, the hunter must be able to demonstrate that his dogs are trained.  Further, many land and forest owners require kiwi aversion training before a dog is allowed onto their property when hiking or exercising.

The training is highly effective but depends on the owner and how well the dog is trained.  Pete stressed that the training was not a replacement for good animal control.  The ideal approach is to subject a dog to initial training and then give the dog a follow up test in six months.  Thereafter, the dog should be retested on an annual basis to ensure continuing effectiveness.

Most of the dogs were being trained for the first time but three of the dogs were having follow up tests.

There are different methods of aversion training and today Pete was using the electric collar method. On arriving, Pete selected a spot on the property where the dogs could be released into a contained area to ensure that their movements could be controlled.  From the chilly bin, Pete took out two dead kiwi carcasses and placed them at each end of the run.

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The training was carried out by putting a collar on the dog.  Pete had a remote control with which he could give the dog a harmless, mild electric shock.

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Before Pete puts the collar on, the dog is allowed to sniff it and become comfortable with it.

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The collar is then attached.

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The dog is released or led through the run and allowed to explore.

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When the dog encounters the kiwi carcass and shows interest in it, the dog gets a mild shock.  The result is that the dog associates the sight and smell of kiwi with the unpleasant experience.

The results are amazing.  Most of the dogs that were being tested were still highly kiwi averse.  In fact one dog even recognised Pete’s distinctive vehicle and refused to go near it.  Those dogs gave the dead kiwis a wide berth as they went through the run and there was no need to give them a shock.

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Dogs who were being trained for the first time weren’t so lucky.  As soon as they showed any interest they got a mild shock.  For most of them, that was sufficient and they avoided the second kiwi.

Sky went right up to the first kiwi.

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And after getting a shock didn’t want to come back into the run.

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Maddie approached the first kiwi:

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And got an unpleasant shock.

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And wasn’t sure if she wanted to get any closer to the second kiwi.

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And it was the same for Blue and Star who didn’t want to have anything to do with the second kiwi.

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A couple of dogs had to go through the run a second time but eventually each dog was able to ignore both the kiwi, showing that the training had been effective.

But it wasn’t all work for the dogs.  Rex got a chance to make friends with the neighbour’s cow:

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And Maddie and Meg because of their heavy coats got to play in the water trough to get them wet so the collar would be more effective.

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Pete kept detailed records on each dog.

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Several of the dogs had been microchipped for identification and Pete had a scanner to capture their details.

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As each dog finished the training, Pete presented the owner with a certificate which can be used as evidence of successful training.

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It was a wonderful day and was a great opportunity for us to meet a lot of wonderful people we hadn’t met before.

Andrea, Andy, Barry, Ben, Bob, Colin, Matt, Mike, Nikki, Shane, Tamara and Terry – thank you all for bringing your dogs along for training today. It was great meeting all of you and we also enjoyed meeting your nice dogs whose behaviour is a positive reflection on the efforts you have made to train them.

Gill and Kevin – our many thanks for taking the initiative and arranging for the training today. Your passion for conservation is a real inspiration to us.

And a very big thank you to Pete Graham for giving up a Sunday and coming out to conduct the training.  Pete, it was a pleasure to watch you interact with the dogs and their owners and we also appreciate you sharing with us some of your wealth of knowledge about kiwis and how to protect them.

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Thanks again everyone for your participation – we looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

And we look forward to the day when kiwi will be roaming freely at CUE Haven too!

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Unitec Ecology Students Visit CUE Haven and Mataia—15 August 2014

August 16, 2014

Every year since 2010, Mel Galbraith, senior lecturer in ecology at Unitec has brought out a group of final year ecology students to CUE Haven so that they can experience a restoration project in process.  And since 2013, the field trip has included a visit to our neighbours at the Mataia Restoration Project so that the students can experience a slightly more mature project and also learn about the Northland brown kiwi released there in 2013 and 2014.

Accompanying Mel today were his colleagues Dan Blanchon and Angela Dale, who have come out to CUE Haven in prior years and their students Andrew, Dyllan, Julia, Julie, Meihana, Nicola, Olivia, Shanti and Vijay.

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We also had the pleasure today of having a team from North Tec in Whangarei join us. Ecology tutor Ben Barr brought along his students Ashlee, Bevan, Nina and Tyler who are in their final year of a degree in Applied Science (Biodiversity Management).

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Our neighbours Gill and Kevin Adshead from Mataia, and the Unitec and North Tec teams arrived about 10 am and we got acquainted over morning tea.

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Mel then gave a brief welcome and described the objectives for the day.

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And we then gave a brief overview of the history the CUE Haven restoration project and discussed some of our priorities, challenges and plans for the future.

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Before heading out to tour the property we asked the group to disinfect their shoes and boots as we continue to be concerned about kauri dieback disease,

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We then drove the group up to the top of the property and walked down via the gully walking track and wetlands boardwalk.

We started in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Grove and the group had a look at the artwork the DoEHA participants have been working on.

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And Mel “chaired” the group!

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As they walked through the bush, the students had a chance to see the different phases of the restoration project and some of our weed and pest control activities.  The students had lots of good questions and we had some excellent discussions.

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Dan pointed out some interesting moss.

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And the students learned to differentiate between a manuka and kanuka tree.

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And Ben found a stick insect living in a manuka tree.

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The group finished up their tour via the wetlands boardwalk.

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After the walk we all had a quick lunch and then Gill and Kevin gave a briefing about the Mataia property, the restoration project and their kiwi releases.

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The group then took the short ride over to Mataia and took a walk through part of the property where the students had a chance to see the more mature revegetation work and learn about the extensive pest control efforts being done to protect the kiwi.

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Gill and Kevin also explained that several of the kiwis are fitted with tracking devices.  They demonstrated the telemetry devices for tracking the whereabouts of individual kiwis and gave the students a chance to try out the equipment.

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We then met up at the beautiful Mataia homestead for afternoon tea and a debriefing on the day’s activities.

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Despite the erratic weather we had a fantastic day with the Unitec and North Tec group.  We learn a lot from these visits and are always impressed with the enthusiasm and varied interests and knowledge of the students and staff.

We want to thank Mel for his continued support and for organising the visit.  And many thanks to Angela, Ben and Dan and their students for taking the time to come out and for their interest in our projects.

We wish you all the very best in your endeavours and we hope you will all come back to visit us again soon!

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