Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Grove Hut
One of the features of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Awards Grove at CUE Haven is the old water tank near the top of the property. When CUE Haven was a farm, the water tank served as a key element of the infrastructure. Water was pumped from the dams in the wetlands up to the tank. It was then gravity fed to the troughs for the stock to drink. It was painted sky blue and had been pretty much neglected ever since we stopped grazing in 2009.
The first team of DoEHA students decided that the water tank should be turned into some sort of a rest stop/shelter and in early April 2013, we had a professional concrete cutter cut an opening in the tank for an entrance.
We were pleasantly surprised at the condition of the tank interior. Other than a long abandoned bird’s nest and the absence of the manhole cover, the structure was sound and only in need of a good clean up.
The April 2013 team of gold award participants tackled the clean up. First they painted the outside with white sealer paint and then scraped and scrubbed the inside and painted it as well.
That team also gave some thought to how the hut should look. They decided that it should have a thatched roof like a proper hut and to decorate the exterior walls with a mural or some other art work.
The team decided to focus on the roof and leave the art work/painting for future teams. They harvested nikau palm leaves from the mature bush at CUE Haven and wove a roof which they secured down.
They were so anxious to get the roof completed in time that they moved the operation inside so they could continue working after dark!
Once the roof was finished, the next task was to get it back up to the hut and fix it in place.
The roof looked really nice but unfortunately, it did not hold up well. The hut is located near the top of the property where it is exposed to westerlies coming off the Kaipara Harbour and after a few months, the roof was in shreds!
The DoEHA team in January 2014 realised what they were up against and decided to construct a more sturdy roof.
Detailed measurements were taken:
Because a lot of wood cutting would be required, the new roof was constructed in the nursery where power tools could be used.
The first step was to make the framework.
Once the frame was finished, wood planks were individually cut and nailed into place.
Once the finishing touches were applied, the roof, which was heavier than it looks, was placed on the back of the ute for transport up to the hut.
The entire team then carried it down and placed it on top of the hut.
The teams had decided that they wanted a mural on the inside and outside of the hut and that the mural should portray the planting and construction tasks that the teams have been doing in the Grove.
We contacted Doug Ford, mural artist, who had helped us with our bird mural on the nursery and he agreed to help out with another interactive mural. Paint for the mural was also generously donated by Resene NZ.
Doug met with the team to discuss ideas and how to approach the mural work.
The team decided that they wanted the hut to look like a stone cottage. The hut would also have windows reflecting the surrounding views and in the interior a big painted mirror would reflect the views of the Kaipara Harbour.
At the hut, Doug showed the team how to mix paint colours and apply the paint.
He then demonstrated how the participants should trace each other in work poses on the hut walls.
The figures on the exterior show the students hammering, working on the roof, digging, planting, and weeding.
Earlier teams had envisioned a circular bench along the wall would be an interesting idea. And so, the figures on the interior showed three girls sitting on the (to be constructed) bench against the wall.
Once all the figures were outlined, the team went to work painting in the details.
The windows on the exterior of the hut and the big mirror on the interior were painted to reflect the surrounding views.
As the team worked on their painting, Doug shaded in the details and smoothed off the work to give it a three dimensional appearance.
The team is justifiably proud of the way the hut roof and mural turned out.
The interior background was finished off in a bush green. And Doug painted a big logo of the Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Awards on the side.
In spite of the weight of the roof, we didn’t want to take any chances and the next team wired the roof down securely.
The roof is perfect for the hut and looks great from all angles!
The final task for the hut involved the seating installation. The circular bench running along the inside wall as envisioned by earlier teams proved to be impractical. As a result, the next team designed and built a straight bridge which would be sturdier and would accommodate more people.
The bottom half of the interior figures were painted out to reflect the change in seating design. The interior mural now looks like three girls are standing at the entrance to the hut looking into the (painted) mirror on the wall which reflects the Kaipara Harbour in the background.
In building the bench, the team considered that because the hut used to be a water tank for the farm, they wanted to make the bench out of old farm materials. Accordingly, they collected old fence posts and wired them together with fence wire to create the bench. It comfortably seats five people, all of whom can enjoy a view of the Kaipara Harbour while they take a rest on the walking track.
The completed hut looks fantastic and has now become a focal point of the DoEHA Grove.
We want to thank Resene for providing the paint for the mural and a very big thank you to Doug Ford for devoting so much time to creating another beautiful work of art and for making this another really fun and memorable project for the students.
And we want to thank all the gold award participants who contributed ideas and effort to the hut over the past year. The project has been a great example of how the Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Awards programme works. The hut transformation project took the participants out of their comfort zone requiring them to learn new building and art skills. Not all of the ideas always worked out as initially intended, but with their enthusiasm and great team work the teams have created something that they can all be very proud of and will be appreciated and enjoyed by visitors to CUE Haven for a long time.