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Conservation Volunteers—19 March 2014

March 20, 2014

Today a group of international volunteers were at CUE Haven to help work on the wetlands boardwalk project.

The team arrived before 8:30 and included Aiko, Basile, Hironori, Pablo, Remi, Ruben, Selina, Thomas, Yannik and Yuki.  It was a truly international team, with representatives from Belgium, Germany, Japan and Switzerland.  Ashleigh of Conservation Volunteers New Zealand was the team leader.

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We spent a few minutes getting acquainted and giving the team an overview of the CUE Haven project and the work to be done today.

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The planned work for the day involved building boardwalk frames and securing them in place and also building a small bridge over a stream that is dry during the summer months.

The first task involved loading up the tools, equipment and timber into the ute so we could carry it up to the start of the track.

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We then went up to the track, but before we unloaded the truck we took a walk through the finished and unfinished sections of the track.  This gave the team an idea of the scope of the boardwalk project and gave them a chance to see the work already done and to get an understanding of what work they would be doing.

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We then unloaded the truck and carried the materials down to the work area.

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As there were several different tasks that needed to be done, the group broke into three teams.

The first team spent all day on the very challenging task of assembling the boardwalk frames.  It involved a lot of nailing, which is something that you need a lot of practice to be good at.  The team got a lot of practice!

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Aiko, Ashleigh, Selina and Yuki became very proficient with the hammer and nails and constructed five excellent frames within a few hours—fantastic effort!!

Basile, Pablo, Remi and Hiro worked on connecting up the two finished sections of track. This too was a challenging job because the ground is very uneven and damp.  The team first had to build two frames and then level the ground so that their frames matched up with the ones already installed and were straight and level.

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The two frames now join up the two previously completed sections of track and are nicely even and aligned and ready for the next group of volunteers to finish off with top planks.

Ruben, Thomas and Yannik worked on the bridge.  Because it would be a relatively short bridge we decided to build the frame first.  It could then be used as a guide to position the footer posts accurately.

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After the frame was finished, it was moved to the bridge site and positioned.

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Once the position of the bridge was determined, the holes for the support posts were dug.  We were using recycled fence posts.

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The posts needed to be cemented in place and the team put on appropriate safety gear!

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Each post was fixed in place using quick drying cement.

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After lunch, the cement had dried and we cut off the tops of the posts and then fixed the frame securely to the posts.

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The last step was to install cross braces to add to the strength and stability of the bridge.  Future teams will install the top finishing planks.

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The bridge will ensure that future visitors will be able to use the boardwalk year round even when the stream is flowing.

It was a very hot day and the team took two breaks.  One for morning tea and one for lunch.  After lunch, before going back to work, we went for a tour of the property to give the group a better idea of how their work fits into the CUE Haven restoration project.

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We took a walk through the Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award Grove where the group saw some of the work that had been done by the students.

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We also took a walk on the gully walking track and the group helped us out by harvesting some kahikatea seeds which we will cultivate and eventually plant on the property.

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And they made friends with a New Zealand stick insect.

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We very much enjoyed working with this group.  They were enthusiastic and hard working and fun.  They accomplished an amazing amount of work and set a new record for number of boardwalk frames built by a volunteer group in one day.  Future groups will install the frames and plank the tops as we complete the project.

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We’d like to thank Conservation Volunteers NZ for making the team available for the day and we also want to thank Ashleigh—you are an excellent team leader and we enjoyed working with you.

And most of all we want to thank the hard working volunteers.  You made a major contribution to the wetlands boardwalk project and the boardwalk will be used—and appreciated—by visitors to CUE Haven for many years to come.

We really appreciate your efforts and we hope you enjoy your stay in New Zealand and wish you all the best in your future endeavours.  We hope you will come back to CUE Haven to see your work and to see the progress since your visit.

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