Spark Digital, formerly Gen-i, is New Zealand’s leading IT and ICT solutions provider. Spark is an affiliate of Spark NZ, formerly Telecom NZ. Today for the third time, Steve Jessop of Spark Digital arranged for a team of his colleagues from Spark Digital and Spark to come out to CUE Haven for a day.
The team arrived around nine and included Alison, Anna, Andy, Charlotte, Deb, Ian, Jeff, John, Luke, Neil, Pablo, Paul J., Paul O., Phillip, Quintin, Rizwan, Samuel, Steve H., Steve J., and Steven. And also joining us for the day were Luke’s sons Samuel & John
We spent some time getting acquainted over morning tea.
Mahrukh then gave a welcome and a short overview about the CUE Haven project. It was an introduction for new people and an update on our activities for the several people who had been out on previous visits.
Tom then gave a safety briefing and an overview of the work planned for the day.
We are building a new walking track which will give visitors an opportunity to explore a part of the property that has previously been inaccessible. Earlier groups of volunteers had started the track and the plan for today was to further extend the track, build two bridges over some small streams that cross the path and also do make some improvements to the wetlands boardwalk.
The team walked up to the work site by way of the boardwalk in the wetlands that earlier Spark teams had worked on.
The group broke into three teams. One team worked on extending the new track, the second smaller team worked on building bridges for this new track, while another small team stayed on the boardwalk to work on an area that hadn’t previously been boardwalked.
We had previously dropped off the tools and equipment at the start of the track but the first job was to carry the timber, cement and water for the bridges up to the bridge sites.
The first task for the track team was to clear, widen and level the path. The proposed route had been sprayed out but was covered with dead grass and weeds.
That was the easy part!
A good part of the track traverses steep terrain. Where the track goes along the slope it is necessary to bench out the surface so that it is level. This requires figuring out the best route and carving the path out. The team proved to be excellent engineers and earth movers!
When the track traversed a steep section at a right angle, it was necessary to cut steps into the track so that it will be easier and safer to negotiate. Installing steps requires a lot of care to ensure that they aren’t too steep and are spaced correctly to make it easy to walk on them. The work involves cutting out the step and then framing it with a board secured by two posts which are then nailed in place.
The team collaborated to come up with the best solution to the various challenges they faced.
While the track teamed worked their way up, the bridge team were working near the middle of the track where two small streams cross the path. The bridge building involved building the frame around old fence posts which would be cemented into the ground.
First the team had to decide the best position and orientation for the bridge and then dig out the area around the posts.
They dug the post holes with a borer and it was a real challenge digging into the heavy clay.
Once the holes were dug and they were satisfied with test fitting the frame, they cemented the posts in place and attached the frame.
Once they finished the first bridge frame, they continued on to build the second.
And the final task was installing the top boards.
Meanwhile, the boardwalk team was working on fixing up a section of the boardwalk. When we did the boardwalk last summer we had left a section of ground bare as we thought it would stay dry enough to enable people to walk on. However, during the wet winter weather the section proved too muddy and we decided to boardwalk over the section.
First the team built a frame for the new boardwalk section.
And then did a beautiful job of planking over the top. They also installed wire mesh for safe footing on wet days.
Because the steps going down to the lower boardwalk section were open, the team decided to plank them over as well.
The result is a much safer and attractive boardwalk and we are delighted with the huge improvement.
Here is the before view:
The team took a break for lunch shortly after midday.
And a short but much deserved rest before going back to work.
We had a busy but really fun day with this team. They were great to work with and had lots of enthusiasm and energy. They set a new single day record for track building by finishing off 154 metres of track and building two bridges plus the boardwalk sections. Here is a look at what they accomplished.
Other teams later this summer will finish off the approaches to the bridges and complete new track and the small remaining section on the boardwalk.
A fantastic effort and a great accomplishment overall!!
A big thank you to Steve Jessop for championing CUE Haven at Spark. This is the third time Steve has brought a team of his colleagues out for a day and we always have a great time.
And we want to thank everyone in the hard working team. You accomplished a huge amount of work and made a major and lasting contribution to the CUE Haven project. We really appreciate your efforts and enjoyed getting to know you and working with you and look forward to having you all back next year.
And we hope you will also come back with your families for a more leisurely visit and to enjoy the walking tracks you have worked so hard on.
Orewa College, located on the Hibiscus Coast north of Auckland, has a significant international exchange program. The school seeks to enrich international students’ experience in New Zealand by giving them wide exposure to New Zealand culture and natural heritage. Today, Adrienne Croad, International Students Development Manager brought a group of students from Chile, Germany, Italy and Japan to CUE Haven to explore, learn a little about New Zealand plants and animals and to leave a permanent mark in NZ by helping us build a new walking track.
The group arrived about ten and included Adrienne and students Anne, Enrico, Gretha, Kazuma, Naoki, Nina, Pablo, Rodrigo, Tamara and Yudai.
We spent some time getting acquainted over morning tea and chatted with the students about where they were from and how they were enjoying their New Zealand experience.
Mahrukh then gave an overview of the CUE Haven project.
And Tom gave a safety briefing and short description of the work planned for the day.
Before the group went to work, we took a ride up to the top of the property.
And then took a short walk down to give the students a chance to learn more about CUE Haven and New Zealand plants and animals.
As we walked down, Tom also pointed out aspects of the walking track to give the students an idea of what to expect when they would be working on their track.
When we got down to the new track site we broke into two teams. One team worked on finishing off some steps a previous group had started while the other group worked on extending the track by benching and clearing.
Finishing off the steps involved cutting out the step sections and levelling the ground so that each step was even and straight as possible.
A particularly challenging task was fitting in the backing boards and nailing the stakes to the board.
But it all worked out well!
The other team worked on clearing vegetation from the track and levelling the surface. They had to cope with prickly gorse, blackberry and thistles but managed to move the track ahead by about 25 metres—a great effort in a short amount of time.
After a couple of hours work the group took a leisurely walk back to the cottage for a relaxing lunch.
We really enjoyed working with the Orewa international students and were very impressed with what they were able to accomplish in such a short period of time.
We want to thank Adrienne for making all the arrangements for today’s visit and bringing the students out.
And a very big thank you to Adrienne and the students for all their hard work today. We appreciate your efforts and hope you enjoyed the day. You have made a lasting contribution to New Zealand natural heritage and the track you built today will be used and enjoyed by visitors for many years to come.
We wish the students an enjoyable stay in New Zealand. We wish you happiness and success in your future endeavours and we hope that someday you will come back to New Zealand and visit CUE Haven too.
The week of 1-9 November is Conservation Week in New Zealand and the theme for this year is “Discover the World Where You Live.” Over 150 events have been taking place throughout the country to give people a chance to find out about the conservation activities in their area.
Today with the help of the Department of Conservation, Auckland Council and many volunteers we hosted a community open day and over 100 people stopped by to explore the property, learn about our project and some other conservation activities going on in the area.
It was great to see a lot of familiar faces and also meet lots of wonderful new people.
Over the past few weeks with the help of lots of volunteers, we’ve been getting the walking tracks and roads in shape after the winter rains. We put up directional signs to guide visitors and also some pictures taken when the project started so that people could see how the landscape has changed.
Visitors brought a picnic lunch, socialised and spent time exploring the property.
The objective for the day was not only to showcase the conservation efforts at CUE Haven but also other local conservation activities. So we turned the nursery into an environmental education centre focussing on the Northland brown kiwi that have been released at Mataia, our neighbours across the road.
Clea of Kiwi for Kiwis, and Julie, a biodiversity student at Unitec who also assists with the kiwi at Matai, set up interactive displays and were on hand to talk to visitors about the highly endangered kiwi and efforts, like those at Mataia, to protect them.
Laptops had been set up so that visitors had an opportunity to see video clips of some of the kiwi at Mataia and their recently born chicks which had been filmed using infra red cameras.
The kiwi at Mataia are fitted with telemetry devices so that their movements, activities and vital signs can be monitored. Because Mataia is literally across the road we are in range of the telemetry signals and visitors had a chance to track the kiwi.
Also as part of the Open Day, a few students from the Unitec department of Performing and Screen Arts were on site with lecturer, Mark Ingram, to film and interview as part of their project to make a short documentary on the CUE Haven project. They interviewed some of the volunteers and also interviewed Paige and Yan, Unitec graphic design students who developed the beautiful signs which are now installed at CUE Haven.
It was a great day and we really enjoyed seeing so many old friends and meeting new friends and we have a lot of people to thank for making it such a successful event.
The Open Day, like the CUE Haven project itself, is again evidence of what a community can achieve when the public and private sectors and individuals all come together to create something beautiful and lasting for current and future generations.
Firstly our many thanks to Sue from the Department of Conservation who launched the idea of a CUE Haven open day and who helped with the publicity. And also many thanks to Craig of Auckland Council for assisting with the laminated ‘before’ photos of the CUE Haven landscape so that visitors could better visualise the progress of the project over the past six years.
We want to thank Nestle NZ for providing the much appreciated Nescafe Menu coffee and Peach and Lemon Nestea for the visitors.
We also want to thank Mason Contractors Ltd and Northpower Ltd for the very generous contribution of quality metal. And thank you Pete of Helensville Diggers for getting the roads and walking tracks ready for the Open Day.
A very big thank you to Clea and Julie for giving up a Saturday to share their vast knowledge of kiwi and New Zealand ecology.
And a very special thank you to our very dear friends Jane and Mauricio for coming and helping out for the day. Jane looked after all the visitors making sure that the food and beverage tables were well stocked and answering questions. Mauricio helped out by guiding visitors, answering questions and taking fantastic pictures to document the day. We really appreciate your invaluable help.
And finally, a big big thank you to all the visitors who came out for the day. It was great seeing you all and we really appreciate your support. We look forward to having you back again!
Westpac is one of New Zealand’s largest banks and has been doing business in the country since 1861. The bank has a strong commitment to sustainability and community support and today ten professionals from their Business Analysis Group in Auckland visited CUE Haven to help us with some walking track work. The team arrived just after nine and included Anita, Devan, Indra, Kerrie, Maurice, Nooshka, Pranic, René, Rory, and Sarah.
The visit had been co-ordinated by the Auckland and Warkworth offices of the Department of Conservation and Catherine, Kirsty, Liz and Nick from DoC also joined us and helped out for the day.
November 1-9 is Conservation Week in New Zealand and the theme this year is “Discover the World Where You Live.” CUE Haven will be hosting an Open Day this Saturday, Nov 8 and Mediaworks TV3 presenter, Kanoa Lloyd, and cameraman, John Fleming, came out to interview and film us the volunteers for a short clip that will showcase the conservation efforts on several project around the country this week. You can view the clip here.
We got acquainted over morning tea.
Then Mahrukh gave a short overview of the CUE Haven project and Tom gave a safety briefing and talked about the work planned for the day.
Then, before we headed out to the field, the team spent a few minutes in the nursery disinfecting their shoes to help prevent the spread of Kauri dieback disease that has been killing these magnificent giant trees.
Everyone then piled into the ute and drove up to the top of the property.
Once we reached the top, the team walked down to the work site and along the way Tom pointed out aspects of track work that the team would be working on to give them an idea of how a finished track looks.
The first job the group tackled was to smooth out an area of the track that had eroded. They cut out a new route for the track and levelled it off in no time and it is now much better looking and safer.
The big job for the day was to work on a new track that we are building this summer. This track starts near the western end of the existing stream gully track but follows along the opposite side of the stream and it will give visitors an opportunity to enjoy some additional mature bush on the property. The new track will also enable visitors to walk from the top of the property back to the cottage almost entirely on walking tracks rather than on the access roads.
The first task was to create the entrance to the new track and smooth out the path along a fairly long and flat stretch,
A few metres from the entrance, the ground begins to slope down and the team cut steps to make it easier for visitors to walk down the slope. The steps were secured with boards which were pegged and nailed into place.
The group continued on levelling and smoothing the track and putting in steps where necessary. It was challenging work but the team did an amazing job.
It was then time to hike back to the cottage for a relaxing lunch. The Nescafe Menu coffees and the Iced Peach and Lemon Nestea generously supplied by Nestle NZ for our volunteers were much appreciated. Thanks Nestle!
The Westpac team has made an excellent start on the new track. In just a couple of hours the team was able to form 70 metres of new track! Additional teams of volunteers this summer will continue where the Westpac team left off.
We want to thank Rene and Kirsty for organising the day and co-ordinating the very successful visit. And we also wish to thank the Department of Conservation staff for their continued support for the CUE Haven project.
But most of all, a very big thank you to all the hardworking members of the team. We really enjoyed working with you all. You were all enthusiastic and creative and accomplished a lot more than we expected. You have made a major contribution to CUE Haven with your effort today and the walking track you helped formed will give visitors over the years more ways to explore and enjoy the property. Thank You!
We hope you will all come back for a more relaxing visit and to walk on the completed track!
This week we had a great team of Conservation Volunteers help us with a variety of maintenance tasks around CUE Haven.
The group arrived on Monday morning and included Alex, Anna, Carina, Catherine, Fabienne, Julia, Lea N., Lea S., Pascal, and Tiphaine Participants represented Germany, France, Switzerland and the UK. The team leader was Bruce Eade from New Zealand. It was great seeing Bruce again as he has brought CVNZ teams out to CUE Haven several times.
We got acquainted over morning tea and then Mahrukh gave a welcome and introduction to the CUE Haven project and Tom gave a brief overview of the work planned for the week.
The primary task that the team worked on was walking track maintenance, and there were lots of different jobs to do. The first involved clearing away vegetation that had grown on or over the track over the winter.
Next there was a section of track that many visitors found difficult to negotiate. It involved some steep steps with sharp corners. We asked the team to study the area and see if they could come up with an alternative arrangement that would be easier to walk over. They decided to replace an entire section of the steps with a long ramp that would have only a few gentle steps.
It was a complicated job. First they had to bring up the materials they would need.
Then up at the site they had to take out the old steps and retaining walls, build a frame for the ramp and put in new steps.
The result is much neater, safer and easier to use.
Another challenge was a section of the boardwalk where several steps were flooded over. The team dug out the problem steps, improved the drainage and built an additional boardwalk section over a particularly wet section.
The result is a great improvement that will make the boardwalk safe to use year round and will ensure that visitors don’t get wet feet.
Julia hurt her ankle and gave it a rest for a day, but she continued to help out by potting up some karamu seedlings that the team had found growing too close to the track. They will be kept in the nursery until next spring when they should be big enough to be planted out in the field.
Another big job the team handled was some general clean up and weeding. The biggest issue was some large gorse infestations. Gorse is an invasive weed and a nasty bush with lots of thorns. It’s also a good idea to get rid of it now because the seeds produced by the flowers can live for a long time and that makes gorse very difficult to get rid of.
The team went out to the gorse areas and cut it back and sprayed the stumps with weed killer to prevent the bushes from growing back. It was a difficult job but very important to the restoration project.
They also cleaned up and weeded the area by the front gate.
And walked the boundary fence and cleared the vegetation on the fence and on the electric hot wire to ensure that the hot wire is operating at maximum capacity and prevents the neighbours’ cows from paying us a visit.
There were two benches along the walking track that were rather high for our younger visitors, so the team cut off some of the support posts to make the benches lower and also relocated another bench to a steep part of the track so visitors could take a rest after climbing up.
The hard working team even took their breaks in the field. And the iced Peach and Lemon Nestea generously sponsored by Nestle NZ was much appreciated by the volunteers. Thanks Nestle!
On Tuesday and Wednesday we had two school groups out for day visits. The students would be working in the nursery and so on Monday the team helped us get the nursery cleaned up, organised and ready for the students.
During the school visit on Wednesday, some of the team members participated in the learning sessions on water care and learned about how human activity such as commercial and residential development and farming and forestry affect waterways, how to test for water quality and how to identify the macroinvertebrates living in ponds and streams.
The team made a major contribution to our project by helping out with the maintenance tasks but they also made their own unique contribution to the project. Our planned project for this summer is to put in a new walking track that will allow visitors to explore the stream gully from the other side. The planned track had been marked out and the team went through with spades and rakes and loppers and cleared most of the track. It is now ready for other teams to bench and finish off the track and the team’s work will make the project much easier.
Despite the hard work, the team was always smiling and cheerful and before they left on Friday we presented our new friends with CUE Haven friendship bracelets.
We’d like to thank Conservation Volunteers NZ for making the team available this week and many thanks to the anonymous corporate benefactor who sponsored the visit.
And a very big THANK YOU to Bruce and the team. We really enjoyed working with you all. You accomplished a lot and have made a major contribution to CUE Haven. Bruce, thanks for your leadership and advice, and we look forward to having you back with another team.
We wish the overseas team members a great stay in New Zealand, a safe trip home and all the best in your future endeavours. We hope you will come back to see us on your next visit to New Zealand. Thanks again!
We had a very busy but fun two days this week when all the Year Four students from Milford School on Auckland’s North Shore came to CUE Haven. Because of the size of the group (82 students, plus parents and teachers) we decided to host the students over two days. Each student got the chance to do some work in the nursery potting up seedlings, participate in a WaiCare session to learn about water quality testing and macroinvertebrates and to learn more about native New Zealand plants and animals on a short nature walk.
On both days the groups arrived at about ten. We had morning tea and then Mahrukh gave a brief overview of the CUE Haven project and Tom did a short safety briefing.
Each day we split the students into two groups.
One group did a ninety minute Waicare session while the other group went to the nursery to spend a half an hour doing some potting up. When the potting was finished, the students went on the nature walk. After lunch, the groups rotated so that all students had a chance to do all of the activities.
Auckland Council Waicare educators Shelley Hackett, Rachel Griffiths and Rata Gordon were on site to lead the water testing and analysis sessions. Before the students arrived, they collected water samples from the stream and ponds. They then set up their work area on the boardwalk over the main stream.
Shelly, Rachel and Rata began their presentations with a discussion of the importance of water quality and an explanation about how activities such as urbanisation and farming can have a negative impact on waterways and water quality.
They then demonstrated how to test for water quality by looking at measures such as dissolved oxygen, pH and water clarity.
The water samples were collected from two different sources on the property and included some vegetation, which is a habitat for macroinvertebrates (pond creatures). The water samples were put it into shallow white trays to give the students a chance to study the pond life.
The Waicare educators explained the different kinds of creatures that can be found in fresh water ponds and gave the students a chance to see how many different creatures they could find and identify using a magnifying glass and field identification charts.
The students found and identified several macroinvertebrates. And we were happy to hear that they also found samples of Free-Living Caddisfly, Flat Mayfly and Spotty Stonefly. These creatures need good water quality to exist. This is good news because it means that our revegetation efforts are having the desired effect of improving the quality of water in our streams and ponds.
We had a supply of kauri, rimu, kowhai, puriri, rewarewa and porokaiwhiri seedlings that needed to be potted up into larger containers. This is very important work because as the seedlings grow, they become too large for their small pots and become root bound and might even die.
The students worked in groups of two to pot up the seedlings. Mahrukh gave a demo and explanation of the work to be done.
And the students went to work…..
The students weren’t bothered when they discovered a few worms in the pots!
When each student had finished planting, they were given a magnifying glass and encouraged to explore the different plants they had just planted by comparing and contrasting leaf and stem structures.
The students accomplished an amazing amount of work. The trees they potted up will stay in the nursery for another year or two and will then be planted out among the pioneer trees already planted to create a forest canopy.
After the nursery session, Tom took each group on a short walk through the bush.
The students learned more about the CUE Haven restoration project and learned a little bit about native New Zealand plants and animals.
Tom explained some of the animal and plant pests that threaten native New Zealand plants and animals and described our pest monitoring and trapping program to attempt to manage undesirable pests.
On their walk the students also saw skinks, snails and several kinds of birds and the students had a lot of interesting questions.
We really enjoyed the day with the students and were impressed by their enthusiasm and interest in nature.
We would like to thank Daltons for generously providing their excellent premium potting mix that we used to pot up the seedlings. And also thank you Nestle NZ for providing the Nescafe Menu coffees for the adults.
A big thank you to Shelley, Rachel and Rata for joining us and for their great presentations which were much appreciated and enjoyed by everyone. Your participation added a lot of value to the day and we really appreciate your help and support. And our thanks to Auckland Council for supporting the CUE Haven project and enabling their visit.
We also want to thank teachers Claire, Lorna and Michelle, and teacher’s aides Lisa, Sharon and Sue and the accompanying parents – Abbey, Andrew, Ben, Emma, Fleur, Jo, Kathryn, Kimberley, Nigel, Phil, Rebecca, Rianda, Stu, Tracey, Vicky and Vivian for all their help in keeping things organised.
And extra thanks to teacher Michelle for arranging the visit and handling all the complicated logistics. We really enjoyed working with your students and were very impressed by their behaviour and enthusiasm.
Also many thanks to Karen of Bayes Coachlines. Over the past two years Karen has driven several bus loads of students out to CUE Haven from the North Shore schools and she always goes out of her way to help out and really made a big contribution again on both days helping in the nursery.
And most of all we’d like to thank the Milford School students. Thank you very much for your efforts with potting up the trees – you have made a major contribution to CUE Haven and we really appreciate it. We very much enjoyed having you out and hope you had a fun and educational day. We look forward to having you back out again.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
And the last three signs were installed by some of the staff from ANZ Bank who were volunteering for the day on October 10th.
The signs are a fantastic addition to the CUE Haven landscape and will be enjoyed and appreciated by visitors for years to come.
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.
A big thank you to Auckland Council for providing the grant to have these wonderful educational signs made.
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.
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.
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.
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!!