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Murrays Bay Intermediate School – 10 June 2013

June 11, 2013

Murrays Bay Intermediate School on Auckland’s North Shore is a New Zealand Enviro School.  Schools participating in the Enviro school programme take an action based approach to education to involve students in planning, designing and implementing sustainability projects both at school and throughout the wider community.  The objective is to make students a catalyst for positive environmental change at school, home and in the wider community.

As part of their environmental activities, the students help out with environmental projects in the community and we are very grateful to Sarah Sheehan, Auckland Council’s Senior Education for Sustainability Advisor, for promoting the CUE Haven project to the Enviro Schools programme.  The plan was for the students to spend time planting trees, going on a nature walk and also learning about water quality issues and conducting water quality testing and observations.  The objective was for the students to learn about a native forest restoration programme and to get a better understanding of how tree planting contributes to wider objectives of improving water quality and helping bird and animal life.

The team arrived before ten and was led by sustainability teacher David Walker.  David was assisted by student teacher, Bonnie Gray, as well as parents, Jean Roberts and Jean Olzen.

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It was a beautiful sunny day and we started off with morning tea and a brief talk about the CUE Haven Restoration project.

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We broke the students into three teams.  Each would do a different activity and then the groups would rotate so that each group had a chance to do each activity.

To start off, one group went to the planting site with Tom, another group joined Rachel Griffiths, Auckland Council’s WaiCare Community co-ordinator, to learn about water quality issues and to conduct field testing and observations.  The third group did a field trip with Morag Vasilaki, Auckland Council’s Education for Sustainability Advisor, to learn about observing nature and what to look for on a nature walk.

Each activity took about 45 minutes and then we rotated the groups to the next activity.

At the planting site, Tom gave a brief talk about the types of trees we are planting and demonstrated planting and safety techniques.  The planting conditions were challenging because there was a thick layer of dead grass covering the soil but the teams had a lot of energy and managed to plant just over 100 trees!

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The teams found lots of worms and skinks as they did the planting.

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The hard working teams almost couldn’t wait for lunch!

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For the Waicare presentation, Rachel gave a short talk about the importance of water quality and about how historical farming practices can impact water quality.  She took samples from the pond and discussed issues such as runoff, chemical balance and sediment and demonstrated the test procedures used to determine water quality.

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Some of the sample water was placed into trays and Rachel explained the different types of creatures that can be found in fresh water ponds.  She gave the students a chance to see how many creatures they could find and identify and explained the characteristics and behaviour of the creatures, such as dragonfly larva, that the students found.

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Morag started the nature walk sessions in the nursery.  She gave a short talk about native vegetation and the importance of native forests as well as guidance on how to identify native species.

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She gave each student a powerful magnifying glass and they inspected the plants in the nursery.

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The groups then went on a short walk in the revegetating bush.  During the walk, Morag pointed out interesting features and explained what to look for and how to listen for sounds in nature.  She discussed the importance of weed and pest control and showed them pest traps and bait boxes in the field.  The team also observed lots of birds, especially fantails.

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The students also learned how to differentiate manuka and kanuka, which look very similar.

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Once each of the teams had participated in each of the activities, the group returned to the cottage for lunch and snacks.

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We want to thank Nestle New Zealand for providing Iced Peach Nestea, Nescafe and yummy Kit Kats and Milky Bar treats for everyone.

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We had a great time with the Murrays Bay Intermediate group.  The students were enthusiastic, energetic and interested in what was happening.  We look forward to having more groups from the school and hope the students who came out today will come back again to see how the restoration project is progressing.

We want to thank Auckland Council for their continued support.  Our long term vision is to turn CUE Haven into a place for learning about and appreciating nature and involving Enviroschools and providing resources is a big help in reaching that goal.  A big thank you to Rachel and Morag for their excellent and interesting presentations.

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And thanks to Karen of Bayes Coaches who drove the bus and helped out with the activities.

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We especially want to thank David Walker of Murrays Bay Intermediate for helping to make today’s visit happen and to Bonnie and the parents who came along and were a great help.

And last but not least, a very big thank you to the students who made it a special day and who made a great contribution to the CUE Haven restoration project.  We truly appreciate your hard work and we hope you will come back to see your trees and the progress on the project in the coming years.

Thanks again!!

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