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Murrays Bay Intermediate School—5 November 2013

November 6, 2013

Murrays Bay Intermediate School is a New Zealand Enviroschool located on Auckland’s North Shore.  In June of this year, sustainability teacher David Walker brought out a group of students to do some planting and learning activities and today another group of twenty-eight Murrays Bay students came out with David along with student teacher Laura Griffin, parents Jean Olzen and Jean Roberts and driver Karen Robertshaw.  David, Karen, Jean and Jean as well as a few of the students had been out with the group in June and it was great to see everyone again.

Also joining us for the day were Shelley Hackett for the Auckland Council TFS and Wastewise programme and Marnie Prickett and Sophie Tweddle  of the Auckland Council Waicare programme.


However, there was a bit of a complication.  Last week we were notified by the electric company that they would be cutting the power for the day to do some major line maintenance in the area.  Because we are far from the central city, we rely on rainwater collection for our water supply and the water supply relies on an electric pump.  Without electricity we would have no water, flushing toilets or any ability to provide warm drinks or snacks.

We got in touch with Electrix, the company that provides the maintenance and they kindly offered to provide us with a generator for the day.  About an hour before the students arrived, Nigel and his crew came up and set up the generator and we were ready to go.  We really appreciate Electrix helping us out and want to thank the Electrix Warkworth team for their friendly assistance and support.



The plan for the day was for the students to work potting up some seedlings in the nursery and learn about waste minimisation with Shelley and about water quality with Marnie and Sophie and then go for a walk in the CUE Haven bush.

Shelley, Marnie and Sophie arrived before the students and got set up.  Marnie and Sophie set up the testing gear by the ponds while Shelley got the nursery ready by setting out the tiny seedlings that the students would be potting up.


The weather forecast was for intermittent showers and that turned out to be exactly right!  The students arrived at around ten and the Nestle Hot Chocolate generously sponsored by Nestle NZ was a welcome warming treat during morning tea.  Thanks Nestle!


Because of the rain, we had the introductory briefing in the garage.  Mahrukh welcomed everyone, introduced Shelley, Marnie and Sophie and gave a brief history and overview of the CUE Haven project for the benefit of the people who hadn’t been out before.


David then broke the students into two groups.  One would go with Shelley and work in the nursery and the other would do the Waicare analysis. The groups would then swap over so that all the students would get a chance to participate in the different activities.


The nursery work involved taking tiny seedlings and putting them into larger pots.  The little plants will spend the summer in the nursery and will be planted next winter.  Shelley did a demo for the students.



And in no time they were potting up like pros.










We’d like to thank Trees For Survival for supplying the little manuka, kanuka and flax seedlings for the students to pot up.

In addition to the tiny seedlings, the students also transplanted some older, larger totara, nikau, and karaka plants that we had in the nursery which needed to be transferred to larger pots.


The students also found a few worms in addition to the plants.


A big thank you to Jean, Laura and Jean who helped to make sure that the students didn’t run out of potting mix!

By the end of the morning, both teams managed to pot up over 600 trees!



Marnie and Sophie started their Waicare presentations at the cottage.  Marnie gave the students satellite maps of CUE Haven as well as the neighbourhood of Murrays Bay School.  She had them notice the differences between a built up urban area and a rural area and used the maps to get the students discussing how the different types of environments would affect waterways and water quality.  She also explained the importance of water quality and some of the issues affecting water quality in rural and urban areas.



The group then went to the wetlands where Marnie and Sophie had earlier taken water samples and set up their testing equipment.


Marnie had the students help with tests to check the levels of oxygen in the water samples.






She also explained the concept of water clarity and what it meant and the students all had a chance to check the clarity of the water samples.





Sophie explained the importance of temperature to animal and plant life in the water system and how to properly measure water temperature and also check for pH levels. She also helped the students identify macroinvertebrates that were living in the ponds.






Once all of the students had done both activities, the entire group came together and Shelley did a Wastewise presentation.  It was an eye-opening experience for the students and even the adults!!  Shelley’s interactive presentation had the students learning about landfills and how much of the stuff they throw away ends up in landfills or the ocean.   They learned about what happens to man-made materials such as plastics in the ocean.  They then did an exercise to help them determine where waste could be reduced, reused or recycled in order to decrease the amount of waste going into landfills and the environment.



At the end of Shelley’s presentation, Marnie handed out prizes to the students who had answered the most correct questions.


The students then had a quick lunch before their next activity.



After lunch Tom took the group on a nature walk through the bush to learn more about the CUE Haven restoration project.




We had a great day with the Murrays Bay students.  They were enthusiastic and interested and we were especially happy when at the end of the day when Dave asked the students to talk about some of the things they had learned it was clear that they had been paying attention and absorbing all the new information they heard.


Many thanks to Shelley, Marnie and Sophie for your fantastic presentations and creative input into the day.  And we want to thank Auckland Council for making it possible for you to join us.

Also, Jean, Jean, Laura and Karen thank you for all your hard work and helping with the day’s activities.

Dave,  a very big thank you for your ongoing interest in the CUE Haven restoration project.  Your interest and enthusiasm are evident in the attitudes of the students.

And finally a big Thank you to the students for a fun and interesting day.  Those of you in Year 7 we hope you will come back next winter to plant the trees you potted up today out in the field. For the Year 8 students, we wish you all the best as you move on to high school and we do hope you too will come visit us again in the future.



4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2013 1:53 pm

    Congratulations you two on your wonderful organizing skills with such ahuge influx of “little fellas” even having to orginize your alt power supply,, well done all those busy little fingers with next years plant supply…

    • November 10, 2013 8:41 pm

      Thanks Doug–you’ll have to come out and see the changes since your last visit!

  2. November 7, 2013 6:29 am

    A fantastic day of learning and of fun and a wonderful way to make a real authentic gift back to the community. CUE Haven offers such a great opportunity for kids, and Tom and Mahrukh do a great job at driving the message of Sustainability. Our thanks to you both for a great day. Dave and the students of Murrays Bay Intermediate School.

    • November 10, 2013 8:41 pm

      Thanks David! It was great having you and the students out and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

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