Murrays Bay Intermediate School—16 April 2014
Today sustainability teacher, David Walker, of Murrays Bay Intermediate School in Auckland brought out a group of twenty-seven Year 8 students for a day of learning and exploration. Karen Robertshaw of Bayes Coachlines drove the group out. This is the third time David and Karen have brought a group of students to CUE Haven.
Also joining us today were Mrs. Jung-Hee Kwan, International Student Advisor at Murrays Bay Intermediate School and Morag Vasilaki and Shanthie Walker, Environmental Educators with the Auckland Council’s Environmental Sustainability Education group.
The plan for the day was to split the students into two groups, one would work with Morag in the nursery potting up seedlings and learning about New Zealand biodiversity while the other group would take a nature walk with Shanthi to learn about the CUE Haven restoration project and to understand how planting and pest control help the environment. The groups would then switch so that each group had a chance to do both activities.
The group arrived at ten and we started off with morning tea and a brief introduction to the CUE Haven project. We also gave the students an overview of the activities for the day and a safety briefing.
Mrs. Kwan then gave the students a brief talk about how different New Zealand is from her native Korea. She described the much greater population density and the lack of green space in the cities in Korea, and how important it is for us to maintain the clean green open spaces in NZ.
David then organised the students into their two work groups. Each group would do one activity and then we would have lunch and switch activities.
Morag’s group started by transplanting some karaka seedlings into larger containers. This is very important work because as the seedlings grow, they become too large for their small pots and might even die.
The students learned how to handle potting mix and the proper techniques for planting.
Both groups did a great job with the potting and in a short time transplanted 65 karaka plants into bigger bags.
After the groups finished planting, Morag led them in an exercise to learn about the environmental history of New Zealand. Morag created a timeline which showed the plants and animals and how they were affected throughout history by human activities.
Important milestones included the arrival of the Maori and European settlers because each migration included not only humans but also exotic plants and animals which did not always have a positive impact on native New Zealand species.
Under Morag’s guidance, the students placed pictures representing events in NZ history on the timeline.
They then discussed the impact of the various events on native plant and animal life.
The students then did an exercise to learn more about native New Zealand plants and animals. Morag attached a card describing a particular NZ tree or animal to each student’s back. It was a fun activity as the students then had to ask the relevant questions of the other students to try and guess which plant or animal was on their back.
While one group was in the nursery, the other group went for a long walk through the CUE Haven property. Shanthie, David and Tom pointed out various aspects of the restoration project and the students got a chance to observe and ask questions.
Before we started on the walk, we explained the problem of kauri dieback disease and we asked the students to spray their shoes with Trigene disinfectant to protect the kauri on the property.
On the walk, the students learned about the native trees we are planting and about pest plants and animals. We showed the students why kikuyu grass is a problem, described our weed management practices and explained the difference between annual and perennial weeds.
The students also learned about our animal pest control programme and got a demonstration of how the traps work.
The students had lots of questions which led to interesting discussions about everything from plants and pests to walking track maintenance and electric fences.
The students learned to identify some important native trees and saw how birds help spread the seeds of trees and therefore help with the forest regeneration.
And learned how to distinguish manuka and kanuka trees.
They also helped install a tree identification sign on the walking track.
We frequently saw some friendly fantails along the track and one group saw a pair of kereru in a kahikatea tree.
Many of the trees are fruiting now and the students had a chance to learn a little bit about how native trees reproduce and sampled some karamu berries.
They also had a chance to check out some of the new benches on the walking track that other senior students had built.
Once all the students had done both activities, David had a short review and debriefing session before the group headed home. From their responses, it looked like the students had paid attention and learnt a lot.
We had a great day with the students who were all enthusiastic and interested in learning. And despite the dark overhead clouds the weather stayed fine throughout.
We want to thank Nestle NZ for the Hot Chocolate and iced Peach Nestea which were very much appreciated by everyone. Thanks Nestle!
And we’d like to thank Karen who has driven all of the Murrays Bay student groups out to CUE Haven and has become a good friend. Karen participated in all of our activities and even took the time to do some weeding in the nursery! Thanks, Karen!
We also want to thank Morag and Shanthie for their excellent programme for the students and for adding a lot of valuable insights. And thanks to Auckland Council for making it possible for them to join us.
David and Mrs. Kwan, thank you for helping with the days’ activities. And a special thanks to David for his continued interest and support of the CUE Haven project and for organising the visit today.
And finally, a big thank you to all students. We had a fun day with you and thank you for helping to pot up the karaka seedlings. We very much look forward to seeing you all again in July when you return to help plant some trees and learn about water quality management.