Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Grove—22-26 April 2013
Back in January, two teams of Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Gold Award participants began work on the walking track in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Grove. The Grove has been established at CUE Haven to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the DofEHillary Award programme in New Zealand.
This week another team of Gold Award participants were on site to finish the track in anticipation of the 50th anniversary celebration to be held at CUE Haven in July. The team consisted of Adam, Gemma, Hadley, Hannah, Harrison, Jacquelina, Jefferina, Jordan and Sarah.
The team was led by Matthew Cross, who had generously taken leave from his regular work to volunteer as team leader for the group. On Monday and Thursday, he was assisted by Daniel Scott, a DofEHillary Gold Award holder who is the coordinator of the Grove project and also led the first team in January.
Andy Woodhouse, the DofEHillary Awards Co-Director of Training and Development, also joined in and worked alongside the team for the week.
The team had morning tea over introductions and an orientation to the CUE Haven project. They especially enjoyed the apricot fudge that Gemma had made and brought along!
The group then took a short tour of the property. During the tour we walked the track that had been completed by the previous teams and Tom and Andy showed them where the completed track would go and pointed out aspects of track work that the participants would be involved with.
The team had three major tasks. First was to complete approximately 100 metres of track, from the point that the previous group had finished, up to the main road. This would now provide access to the DofE Hillary Award Grove from four different points. The second task was to build a boardwalk over the headwater of the CUE Haven stream. The last job was to start work on refurbishing the old water tank into a DofE Hillary Award Grove feature.
It was a lot of work for one week, and the team broke into groups to tackle each of the tasks simultaneously and people moved around to different groups so everyone got a chance to contribute to different aspects of the work.
Since the last team worked on the walking track in January, we had a record drought with virtually no rain from the end of January to the week before this team arrived. This was mostly bad news, but the good news for us was that last week’s heavy rain on the completely dry track gave us a perfect opportunity to see how the ground on and around the track drained and whether there were any places where we need to improve the track water tables and drainage. The team found three spots where the water had flowed over the track and would be a cause of future problems.
The team corrected the problems by digging drainage ditches and installing drain pipes, sumps and culverts.
The next task was to extend the track up to the road. This involved clearing vegetation, levelling the grade and putting in drainage, and where the slope was too great for comfortable walking, to install steps.
One of the biggest challenges was doing the steps. After determining the grade and the number of steps, the team had to cut them out and then box them up with wooden boards and stakes.
Pounding the stakes into the hard clay was a real challenge!
But the end result was worth the effort:
The last step was to cover the track with a layer of gravel so that people can use it safely throughout the year. This was a challenge because the gravel pile was at the top of the track and the only way to get it down was one bucketful at a time.
The last bit of track work involved finishing off a retaining wall on part of the track that had been built in January. Our friend John Salisbury, an experienced builder, has been volunteering on the project and on Wednesday he joined us to finish off the retaining wall. With Adam’s help, the retaining wall is now complete:
Building the Boardwalk
The CUE Haven stream flows through the DofE Hillary Grove and the track crosses it at two points. During wet winter weather a lot of water comes down from the headwater catchment and the only solution was to build a boardwalk over the stream.
The first task was to study the site to determine where exactly to place the boardwalk and how to anchor it. We decided we needed to span about four metres and that we would use eight footer posts for maximum stability. The team figured out where the footer posts needed to go and dug the holes for the posts.
Once the holes were dug, we could install the footer posts. They have to be cemented in place and we wanted to get them in as early in the week as possible in order to give the cement a chance to dry. First we had to mix the cement—a bit of a challenge in the field.
The posts were then positioned and the cement poured into the holes.
After the cement had dried and the posts were firmly set, the team went back to determine the height and slope of the boardwalk.
Using string and spirit levels, we determined the height of the boardwalk and cut off the posts to the desired height.
The team could then assemble the framework around the posts.
Once the framework was finished, the top boards were nailed down.
To complete the boardwalk, a wire mesh was nailed on top to ensure that the surface will not be too slippery when it is wet.
Working on the Hut
When the CUE Haven property was a farm, there was an extensive irrigation system to deliver water to the paddocks where the cows were grazed. A feature of the system was a concrete water tank near the top of the property. Water was pumped out of the dams in the wetlands and stored in the tank and gravity fed to the paddock troughs.
The water tank is in the DofE Hillary Grove and we asked the previous teams to come up with ideas on how we could put it to use. The best idea involved turning the area around the tank into a rest area with benches and sculptures, with access provided by routing the walking track up to the tank. The tank itself would be decorated and used as a place where pictures and stories about the development of the DofE Hillary Grove would be showcased.
The first thing we had to do was find out what was inside the tank and a way to open it up. Andy Woodhouse arranged for a concrete cutter to cut an opening in the side.
The team was then given three main tasks. The first was to clean the tank inside and out. The second was to paint it and the third was to come up with a “roof” that would help make the tank look more like a hut than a tank.
Cleaning and painting the tank were messy and challenging jobs.
The biggest challenge was figuring out what sort of roof to design. The team decided on a thatched roof made of native NZ materials.
They went into the bush and harvested a supply of nikau palm fronds and went to work. No one on the team knew much about weaving, but Jordan and Sarah took on the challenge and Jordan trained Sarah and several other team members in the weaving technique.
As the end of the week got closer, the team took the unfinished roof down to the garage so they could work at night. Jordan and Adam worked till almost midnight on Thursday night to get the roof completed in time.
On Friday morning the work was finished and the next job was to transport it back up to the tank. Jordan and Adam loaded it on the truck and made sure it wouldn’t fly away during the trip.
The team was waiting at the top and helped carry the roof to the tank.
Matt and Harrison climbed on top and worked the roof into place.
Part of the team worked on wiring and nailing the roof into place, while others worked on joining up the walking track to the hut entrance.
The transformation is amazing and the hut will look even better next week after the team comes back and paints a mural on the outside. A big thank you to Jordan for his hard work planning and coordinating the weaving the roof !
Everyone on the team made a major contribution to the project with both good ideas and hard work and we want to thank everyone for a wonderfully successful week. We especially want to thank Matt for his effective leadership, Daniel Scott for coordinating the Grove project and Andy Woodhouse for his support, vision and enthusiasm which has helped make all of our DofE Hillary Award residentials so successful.
We also want to thank Winstone Aggregates for helping with the gravel we used to finish off the track. Winstone’s has been a supporter of CUE Haven since our first track and road works started. And thank you to Nestle New Zealand who provided the team with coffee and iced Nestea sachets as well as water bottles so that they could take cold drinks into the field.
It was a real pleasure and privilege to work with this team and we look forward to seeing you next week at mural painting. And we hope that you will all come visit CUE Haven and the DofE Hillary Award Grove in the future to see it develop and to serve as team leaders. Thanks again!