Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Grove—13-17 January 2014
2014 got off to a great start with a hard working group of Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Gold Award participants joining us for the week. Gold Award participants can fulfil their residential service requirements at CUE Haven and this was the sixth group of students who have been to CUE Haven since January 2013.
The students primarily work in the DoEHA Grove which is an area of approximately 2 hectares where students have done tree planting, built a walking track and created artwork.
The team arrived on Monday morning and included Emma, Isabella, Karen, Karim, Laura, Lauren, Mariam and Vanessa. The team leader was Kevin Sutherland.
Andy Woodhouse, DofEHillary Awards Co-Director of Training and Development was also on site for part of the week to work with the team.
Over morning tea we got acquainted and gave the group a briefing on the CUE Haven project and the work to be done for the week.
The team had an early lunch and we then took them for a tour of the property and the DoEHA Grove to give them a better idea of the project and the work to be done for the week.
There was an ambitious list of tasks for the week including walking track maintenance and artwork.
Last summer, earlier teams of DoEHA participants had built a walking track through the Grove. Walking tracks require continual maintenance—vegetation and weeds can grow up on the track and nearby trees can block the path. Also, storms and rain over the winter can cause water flows that damage the track and we need to fix it for better drainage.
Their first task was clearing weeds and vegetation from the track for easy access.
The next task involved improving a drain on a sloping section of the track. The objective was to cut a channel for water to flow and keep it off the track and then to build a culvert and pipe the water under the track toward the stream.
Once the drainage ditch was complete, the team constructed and installed the culvert box and fitted the drainage pipe and buried it.
Some sections of the track were steep and slippery, especially in winter, so the team studied the track and determined where some additional steps would be helpful to visitors using the track.
The first task was to cut out the steps. Digging in the hardened ground was tough but the team were up to the task and in spite of the hard work kept smiling throughout.
Once the steps were cut out, the next task was to install a wooden plank to stabilize the step. The planks are held in place with wooden stakes and nailed in place. Pounding the stakes into the hard soil and pounding in long nails at a difficult angle was a challenge but everyone had a go and got the job done amidst lots of laughter.
The team also built a short track to connect the walking track with a service road. This will make it much easier to bring in equipment and materials for future projects in the Grove.
The final track related task was to cover the new sections with gravel which will provide traction for walkers year round. It was a challenging job because the gravel had to be carried in by the bucket load.
Thanks to this team’s hard work the track looks better than ever and they should be very proud of their efforts.
In addition to track work, the team also worked on some of the art projects underway in the Grove. Last spring, a team began work on a mosaic of the DoEHA logo. Future teams will do more work on the mosaic by building a border. This team spent some time cleaning up the mosaic stones and prepping it for the final finish.
Another task this week involved work on the conversion of an old water tank into a rest hut. When CUE Haven was a farm, the tank was used for water storage for the cattle.
Previous DoEHA teams had decided to convert the tank into a hut and paint a mural on the outside of the tank. In April 2013, an opening for the entry way was cut into the side of the concrete tank and the team painted the tank with white primer paint. They also designed and created a beautiful roof for the hut woven from nikau palm fronds. Unfortunately, the nikau roof didn’t stand up to the high winds that come off of the Kaipara Harbour.
This week’s team spent some time brainstorming how to build a more permanent roof structure and once they agreed on a plan they went to work building it.
Because building the roof would require using power tools to cut the timber, it would be built down in the nursery then taken up to the hut. As a result, the first step was to get accurate measurements to ensure the roof would be the right size and would be a perfect fit.
Kevin assisted with cutting the timber and the team members worked to assemble it.
The next challenge was getting it onto the ute to take it to the top of the property.
The entire team then carried the roof down to the hut and lifted it on top. The roof fits perfectly and will definitely withstand any strong winds!
The next step was to paint the mural! Because none of the students had much art experience, we asked the very talented artist, Doug Ford, who designed the native bird mural for the nursery to assist with this project.
The paint for the project was generously donated by Resene NZ, who have also helped out with our nursery mural and other projects as well. Thanks Resene!!
Doug arrived Wednesday morning and spent some time getting acquainted with the team to find out about their experience and interests and to explain how the work would be done. The students decided that the hut should be painted like a little stone cottage and decorated with pictures of them doing the various jobs and activities.
We then went up to the hut where Doug showed how to mix the paints and how to approach the work.
Doug gave a demo and then the students posed doing various tasks and traced each other in outline.
After all windows and stones were detailed in, the team started painting in the colours.
It was an opportunity for the students to explore their artistic sides!
This is how the hut looked before the painting started:
And this is how it looks now. We won’t reveal it completely as there is still some final touch up work to do before the official unveiling!
The team worked really hard all week and accomplished an amazing amount of work. They also took time to relax, going for a night walk to see the glow worms and playing Monopoly and other board and card games.
We also celebrated Vanessa’s and Karen’s birthdays!
Also, during the week, the team enjoyed Nestle Iced Tea and Nescafe Menu coffees generously provided by Nestle New Zealand who also provided each team member with a water bottle for use in the field. Thanks Nestle!
We’d also like to thank Andy Woodhouse for organising this week’s residential and helping out.
A big thank you to Kevin for giving up part of his summer holidays to lead the team. He was an excellent team leader and provided help and guidance to the team.
And finally we’d like to thank the fantastic students who were a real pleasure to work with and who got outside their comfort zones and tackled a number of new and challenging tasks. We wish you all the best as you continue toward your gold awards and in your future endeavours. We look forward to having you come back as team leaders in future years!