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VisionWest Horticulture Students—25 June 2013

June 25, 2013

A great group of students from VisionWest Community Trust visited us for a day of planting and track work.  Since November 2011, students and tutors from VisionWest have been coming to CUE Haven and they have made a major contribution to our project.

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The team arrived just after ten and included tutors Kevin and Peter and students Chrissy, Christine, Christina, Craig, David, Latoya, Michelle, Rahui, Ricky and Wale.

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Over morning tea we gave the team an introduction and orientation to the CUE Haven project and a safety briefing.

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By the time we were ready to go to work, the rain had stopped.

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Today we asked the team to do two tasks—tree planting and walking track maintenance.

This is an exciting time at CUE Haven.  Since 2008 we have been planting fast growing pioneer trees like manuka, kanuka, and karamu, which will create a canopy and shade out the weeds and protect the secondary plantings.  The first areas we planted are now ready for secondary planting and today we asked the team to plant some kowhai trees amongst the growing pioneer trees.

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The kowhai is a wonderful tree.  In Maori, ‘kowhai’ means yellow and the mature trees are covered with bright yellow flowers in spring.  The flower is considered by many to be the national flower of New Zealand and native birds love them.  Mature kowhai can reach 25 metres, and unlike pioneer trees which are planted a metre apart, these trees have to be widely spaced amongst the existing trees.

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In just a couple of hours the team of seven planted almost 200 trees! A great effort considering that these infill secondary plants are in much bigger pots than the usual pioneer plants and have to be carried far into the growing bush.

Earlier this year in February, a team of VisionWest students worked on creating a walking track around one of the ponds on the property.  Since then, trees have grown up along the path and some of them needed to be relocated or trimmed.  Melissa showed us the proper way to prune a flax.

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Three different groups had assisted us during the summer to construct the track around the pond. However, while the track was constructed, we were in the midst of one of the worst droughts on record so the ponds and streams were very low and determining the best drainage plan for the track was a challenge.

The VisionWest team had installed a sump and culvert system on the part of the track they constructed and it has held up during the heavy rains we have been having this winter.  However, on another section of track the bank of the pond washed out when the water level rose.

We asked the team today to fix the damage and put in a proper drainage system.

Here is Wale surveying the damage.  The water washed out the gravel and eroded a big section of the track surface.

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Peter recommended a solution and had the team dig out the damaged area and dig out a sump.  It was a messy job, especially because the water was still flowing through the gap in the bank.

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The next task was to construct the frame for the sump and culvert system.  The team measured and cut the timber and assembled the box in the field.

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The team also installed a new impervious drain pipe underneath the track.  The idea of the system is to create chambers to trap sediment so that the water flowing into the pipe is clear and no debris will block the pipe.

The box was then installed and secured in place.

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While the box was being installed, part of the team went down to get gravel to spread on the track surface to make it safe for year round use.

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We brought the buckets up to the track and the team dumped and spread the gravel to make the track as good as new!

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The new system immediately began working perfectly.

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It’s hard to believe that in just a couple of hours this:

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Was turned into this:

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The team then broke for lunch, but first had to spend a few minutes getting cleaned up in the nursery.

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The team then enjoyed a relaxing chat over lunch.

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Before leaving, the group took a tour of the CUE Haven property and explored the gully walking track.

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We’d like to thank Nestle New Zealand for providing Nescafe Cafe’ Menu coffees, Nestea and Nestle hot chocolate as well as drink bottles so the team could have drinks in the field.  Thanks Nestle!  Your continued support is greatly appreciated by us and all volunteers at CUE Haven.

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And a big thank you to Kevin May and Peter Clifton-Sprigg, VisionWest tutors who have been out with every VisionWest team.  They are very supportive of our efforts at CUE Haven and have been a tremendous help, providing useful information and advice on New Zealand native plants and animals, weed and pest control and walking track construction and maintenance.

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And most of all, our many thanks to the team—a great group of enthusiastic and hard working people.  It was pleasure to work with you and we were very impressed by your interest and commitment.  We hope you will come back to see us again, enjoy the walking tracks and see how your trees are doing.

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