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Conservation Volunteers Make Their Mark on CUE Haven—June 13-17 2011

June 18, 2011

The week of June 13 saw major changes at CUE Haven thanks to the efforts of a wonderful team from Conservation Volunteers.

The group was led by John Busson, NZ team leader for Conservation Volunteers and included Polly from England, Marie from France, Su Yeon, Su Kyoung and Taeseung (Ted) from Korea, Kjell from Germany and Jessica from the USA. Their visit was funded by a grant from the Fonterra Catchment Care programme.

The team arrived late Monday morning and immediately impressed us with their enthusiasm.  We gave them an overview of the CUE Haven project and an orientation to the property and the cottage where they would be spending the week.  They then unpacked and got settled in.

There is always a lot to do at CUE Haven, but this is the season for tree planting.  So although we had a long list of tasks for the volunteers, the main focus of the week was tree planting.  And did they ever plant trees.

After lunch, they went to work.  A couple of volunteers assisted us in unloading the shipment of 4800 trees from the Scrub Growers Nursery and then joined the others who had already started planting.  The trees were acquired with the assistance of a generous grant from the New Zealand Department of Conservation’s Biodiversity Condition Fund.


Tuesday most of the group continued planting, but Polly helped Alan, our neighbour, and I work on our boundary fence.  In addition to fixing up some weak spots in the fence we also installed a hot wire and a solar powered electric fence unit.  Polly was given the (occasionally unenviable) task of running out the wire.  This meant she had to walk the fence line while pulling the wire behind her as Alan and I stayed back to play out the wire and splice sections together.  The job was made additionally challengeing because the fence runs up and down hills and gullies.  Plus we were working on Alan’s side of the fence and his cows had left a lot of calling cards.

On Wednesday afternoon, the group took a break from planting and blazed a trail through the dense bush in the gully.  For a long time we have wanted to put a walking track in the gully so that visitors can enjoy the dense bush and the stream which flows through it.  There are waterfalls and lots of bird life but the area is very difficult to get to because there is no easy access down the steep sides of the gully.

Armed with loppers and saws, we headed into the bush to create a track which will be stabilised and improved once the ground dries out in the spring.  It was a nice change of pace for the team and we spent an enjoyable afternoon exploring a part of CUE Haven that has rarely been seen.

Although it may at times have seemed as if there was no end to the crates of trees waiting to be planted, the empty trays stacked up very rapidly and the CUE Haven revegetation project has taken a major step forward thanks to the hard work of the team.

It was definitely hard work, and the team took well-deserved breaks.  Both outdoors:

And indoors:

We were really impressed with the group, who are all talented, friendly and highly motivated young people.  Despite working hard all day, they still had the energy and enthusiasm to make delicious meals and we were treated to Su Yeon & Su Kyoung’s delicious Korean sushi, Jessica’s yummy  chocolate chip cookies and Marie’s decadent carrot cake.

And before the team left on Friday we celebrated (belatedly & in advance) Kjell & Taeseung’s birthdays with cake and cartwheels.

Over the course of the week the team managed to plant a little over 4,000 trees and completely changed the face of an area which had previously been an open area between two areas of mature vegetation.  This planted area will become a beautiful forest and by linking the existing mature bush areas will be a major attraction to bird life.  The planting was a major achievement and we are truly grateful to the team’s hard work and John’s leadership.

Thanks once again for all your contributions.

We hope that the team members will come back to visit CUE Haven to check on the progress of their trees the next time they visit New Zealand!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ted Kang permalink
    June 20, 2011 11:05 pm

    I’m so happy to see Jessie’s message here 🙂 Yes! there was no comparison between supermarket pavlova and Mahrukh’s home-made, mouth-watering pavlova!! it tasted out of this world. Like Jessie mentioned above, I can’t thank you both enough, Tom & Mahrukh for your kind hospitality. Even if the volunteer work was somewhat physically demanding, after all the work, I felt really happy, because I did something good to the world.

    Our work was small deeds, but I strongly believe that it is only through small deeds that we can make a big difference to the world.

    From this perspective, mahrukh and tom should be proud of yourselves! I really respect your couple!

    Those five days in your house will remain unforgettable in my memory, and I hope everything goes well with you!


    • June 21, 2011 1:21 pm

      Thanks very much, Ted. We’re glad that you could join the team and help make CUE Haven (and the world) a little nicer! We agree with you that small deeds add up to make a big difference.

      We wish you all the best in your career and look forward to seeing you again.

      Tom & Mahrukh

  2. June 20, 2011 4:30 pm

    Can’t thank you both enough, Mahrukh & Tom! (also, what a GREAT blog! I’ll definitely keep track of progress on here!). We all had such a wonderful time working on your beautiful property – what an honor! My volunteering experience has truly changed my outlook on life and what is important – more importantly, working at Cue Haven. It was incredible to see our progress daily. Thank you for the wonderful accommodations, the perfectly made Pavlova (Ted will attest to this), Chocolate-orange birthday cake, and ice cream! You two are a true inspiration and a wonderful asset to New Zealand!

    • June 20, 2011 7:01 pm

      Thanks for your note Jess. It was great having you at CUE Haven and we really appreciate your contributions to the team and to the project. Best of luck in your future endeavours and come back to see us!

      Tom & Mahrukh

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