Skip to content

Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Grove and Walking Track—21-25 January 2013

January 26, 2013

2013 is the 50th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award programme in New Zealand and to commemorate the anniversary, a special project is being undertaken to establish The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Grove at CUE Haven.

This week another group of  DoEHillary Award participants were on site at CUE Haven to fulfil the residential section requirement for their Gold Awards and made major progress on the walking track in ‘The Grove’.

The Grove is an area of a little over one hectare where DofEHillary Award participants will be able to perform community work toward their award goals and also to make a permanent contribution to the planet.

Last week, a team of students started a walking track through The Grove that will enable visitors to explore the area. A new team of students arrived this week to finish Phase I of the track

The team arrived on Monday morning after meeting at a grocery store in Auckland to do food shopping for the week.  The team leader was Russell Allen, a retired school teacher who has had a long association with the DofE programme in the UK.

The team was made up of students from Auckland, Napier and Hamilton and included Aaron, Aless, Alexandra, Cherry, Garrick, Georgia, Megan, Minnie, Shay and Victoria.

1 -Aless,Georgia, Shay, Garrick, Russell,Cherry, Alexandra, Victoria, Aaron, Megan, Minnie

Most of the team members had never met before.  Over morning tea, we took some time to get acquainted.  Andy Woodhouse, DofEHillary Awards Co-Director of Training and Development was present to welcome the students and we provided a briefing about the CUE Haven project and the work to be done for the week.


Tom then explained safety procedures for the property and the tools that the team would be using during the track building.


The Grove is near the top of the CUE Haven property, about a kilometre walk from the cottage and Tom took them on a tour to The Grove by way of the existing walking track to show them the work done by the team last week and features of the track such as steps and culverts which they would be building this week.

After the walk the team then returned to the cottage to unpack and have lunch.


They also got to sample the yummy treats that Victoria had baked for them:


The group then headed up to The Grove to start work.  They picked up where the previous team had finished. Tom demonstrated what needed to be done and part of the team immediately went to work putting in some steps while the rest worked on clearing away vegetation and smoothing the surface of the track.





Over the next four and a half days the team worked very hard constructing the track.





Where necessary the team cut steps into the track which were supported by a heavy plank to hold the step in place.


The planks were secured with two heavy wooden pegs, and it was a challenge to pound the pegs into the hard clay soil.


Once the step was boxed up, the soil was smoothed out to make the surface even.



In spite of the heat and sun, the team made good progress and after extending the track several metres, they started covering the new surface with gravel.  The gravel will make the track safe and usable in all kinds of weather.

Spreading the gravel was one of the more challenging jobs because the pile was a good distance from the track and also downhill—which meant that the gravel had to be hauled up.



And then loaded into buckets.


Which were then hand carried to the end of the track.




The longer the track got, the farther they had to haul the gravel.  The team was very innovative in coming up with ways to make the job faster and easier:



The track traverses very hilly ground and several steps and switch backs are required.  The slope also means that we needed to be concerned about drainage and water tables because in rainy weather a lot of water can accumulate and potentially damage the track.

The team had to put themselves in the shoes of civil engineers and study the terrain for clues about how the water would flow across and along the track.  They then made decisions about how to bench and angle the track surface and in some places also put in drainage channels.



During our planning, the walking track project was broken into two sections—Phase I and Phase II.  We had originally expected to only complete Phase I by this week, but thanks to the hard working and enthusiastic teams we’ve had, we’ve finished Phase I and are now well into Phase II.

One of the challenges this team had was to figure out a way to do the intersection of the two sections of track.  The problem was to make a T-intersection on two levels and Victoria and a dedicated group studied the problem and came up with a unique, workable and very attractive solution.







While part of the group worked on the junction, another group developed a creative solution in another part of the track.  The route took them around two young trees that they didn’t want to disturb.  The initial solution was to create a small island for the trees:


But as they were doing the gravel work, they decided to create “The Heartbreak – the heart that breaks the path.”


Our friend John Salisbury, a builder, came out for a day and volunteered to help with some projects around CUE Haven.  One of the projects was to reinforce a retaining wall along the track with big fence posts and Megan and Garrick assisted John for part of the day.



The team worked very hard all week, and everyone made a major contribution to the track.


Most of the group had never met before Monday morning, but they quickly came together as a team.  In addition to working hard all day, they relaxed in the evenings by playing Trivial Pursuit and card games such as Mafia, Cheat and Scum as well as watching movies.

Everyone participated in making dinner.  The team discovered that they had ‘overbought’ when it came to potatoes and accordingly, each night on the menu, someone created a “Potato Surprise.” One evening Shay baked chocolate chip cookies to enjoy during well deserved rests in the field.


The team also explored the walking track by night and saw the glow worms. And one night  Garrick, Georgia, Aless, Minnie and Aaron tackled the world map jigsaw puzzle and completed it in a record one hour, forty minutes!


Throughout the week the team got out of their comfort zones—working and living with new people and doing work and using tools they may not have had experience with before.  To keep things light they gave all their tools names.  The rakes became known as “Joan” and “Loretta,” a spade earned the name “Bridgette,” the drill was known as “Gertrude” and the wheel barrow was “Big Mamma.”

It was great to see the team come together.  During the debrief they mentioned that at first they had more than a few “T.I.A.” moments—silences in which everyone was thinking “This is Awkward.”  But by the end of the week when it was time to leave, they admitted that it was a “Tear” moment.


The team finished work at lunch time on Friday and after lunch gave the cottage a thorough cleaning.


Later a de-briefing meeting was held where they discussed their experiences during the week and Daniel Scott who is co-ordinating the DofEHillary Grove project at CUE Haven joined in for the final debriefing session.


We were very happy to hear that all the participants had enjoyed the week and felt they had made good friends and learned new skills and also developed a greater appreciation for walking tracks and what is involved in creating them!

We had a fantastic week as well.  We were truly impressed by the dedication, motivation and attitude of the team.  They were a great group of people who worked together as a team to make the track the best it could be and to make CUE Haven a nicer place for future generations to enjoy.

The team has every reason to be proud of their efforts.  In one week, and with no previous experience, they managed to build approximately 129 metres of track which includes 25 steps. They exceeded expectations as they took over and finished Phase I of the track and got a good start on Phase II.




We’d like to thank John Salisbury for his continued support. John has come to CUE Haven on numerous occasions as a volunteer and assisted with many tasks big and small.

Thanks also to Nestle NZ, a supporter of CUE Haven, for providing Milo, Nescafe and iced Nestea and drink bottles so that that team could take the cold drinks into the field:


We want to thank Andy Woodhouse and Daniel Scott for their efforts in making the DofEHillary Grove at CUE Haven a reality and for their help and support in planning and executing the residential retreats.

Our thanks to Russell for coming out to lead the team this week.  He provided support to the team and also worked very hard on the track building.


We especially want to thank the team members—their hard work has helped to make the DofE Hillary Grove a special place that will be enjoyed by many people for a long time.  We enjoyed working with you and watching you come together as a team.  Everyone got along, never lost their cool (in spite of the heat) and did their best to make it a fun, productive and memorable week.


We wish you all the best of luck as you pursue your DofE Hillary Awards.  And good luck with your future studies and pursuits.  We look forward to seeing you again—come back to CUE Haven with your family and friends to see how the Grove is progressing.  And to serve as team leaders for future DofEHillary Award teams!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2013 8:01 pm

    What a great effort,. on such a wonderful . project Good Luck to all the latest particpants.

  2. Maurice & Noeline Cross permalink
    January 27, 2013 8:44 am

    Great experience for young people and we watch with interest all the reports – Cue Haven attracts some lovely people as volunteers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: