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Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Residential—14-18 July 2014

July 19, 2014

This week we had another very successful Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award gold residential at CUE Haven.

The team arrived on Monday and included Alana, Caitlin, Cherry, Chrissy, Emma James, Jacqueline, Kalym, Mette, Praveen, Sean, Sylvia, Tony and Zoe.  Zoe was the team leader.  We had two milestones with this group—it was the largest team we’ve had to date and also was the first time we’ve had DoEHA participants from the South Island.


The group got acquainted over morning tea and then we gave them an overview of the CUE Haven project and a safety briefing.


Andy Woodhouse, Co-Director of Training and Development for the DoEHA programme welcomed the participants and gave them an overview of the plan for the week.

Our friends Kevin, Dayna and Matt were also on site for all or part of the week to help out.

The group worked on a variety of tasks—tree planting, track building, artwork and carpentry.  After a tour of the property and lunch, the team went to work on the first job.  Throughout the week, participants moved among groups so that everyone had a chance to work on each task.

Tree Planting

Winter is planting season and this team continued with planting out the Grove.  There are still some areas where initial planting needs to be done and the group spent part of three days working on filling them in.








They planted over 400 manuka, kanuka, karamu and cabbage trees in very challenging conditions, and a special thank you to Sean, Tony and Zoe who worked extra hard planting in steep and challenging conditions.

The new trees are a great addition to the Grove and the CUE Haven forest.

Walking Track Railing

The walking track at the top entrance to the DoEHA Grove is quite steep at the start and there are several steps going down to the hut.  A long term objective is to make the area around the hut an area for visitors to relax and enjoy the views so we want to make it easy for everyone to walk down.  The team built a hand rail along the steepest part of the steps.

We had ordered the timber and materials and they were delivered on Monday before the team arrived.


The first task was to get all the materials up to the work site.


We drove up as far as we could but then had to carry everything down to the track by hand.



Kevin helped the team study the track and decide where to put the supporting posts for the handrail.  It was necessary to clear away vegetation before the holes could be dug.



The group then took turns digging the post holes.





The post timber was cut to even lengths and each post was test fitted in the hole.


We then mixed the cement to hold the posts in place securely.



The concrete was poured around each post and a spirit level was used to make sure the posts were uniformly straight.


The cement was allowed to harden overnight and the next morning it was time to install the top railings.  This involved determining the required length of each rail, cutting the post to the required height and cutting a notch in the post to hold the rail in place.







Once all the posts were cut and notched, it was time to install the railings by fitting and nailing them in place.







The handrail turned out very well and it will be used and appreciated by visitors for years to come.  The team should be proud of their efforts!



Hut Landscaping and Chessboard

When CUE Haven was a farm, there was a concrete water tank in what is now the DoEHA Grove.  Earlier residential teams decided to turn the water tank into a rest hut and painted it and put a roof on it.  A DoEHA patron also sponsored a bench which was installed next to the hut last year.

Behind the hut there is a disused concrete water trough and the team decided that it would be nice to clean up the area around the hut and to use the trough as a platform for a chess board sculpture.

This is a view of the area in early 2013 before the hut was finished showing the layout of the hut and the trough.


The first task the team tackled was to clear the area and box off an area where visitors will be able to relax and enjoy the views.

They marked out the area and first relocated any trees that had been planted in the area.


They then levelled the area, cleared out the weeds and grass and built a small retaining wall around it.








Once the retaining wall was finished, the team filled in the area with gravel brought down from the top of the track to create a nice surface.





The end result is an amazing improvement!



While part of the team were working on the clearing and organising the area by the hut, some of the other team members were building the chess board and pieces.  The plan was to make the board out of a slab of concrete and the chess pieces would be cut out of plywood, fixed in concrete bases and painted.

The first task was to build a box for the board.


And other team members cut out rings which would be the moulds for the concrete bases of the chess pieces.



They then mixed up the concrete for the board and the bases.


And poured and smoothed the concrete in the board.


Once the concrete had hardened a bit, a jig was made to imprint shading into the concrete to denote the black squares.



In the meantime, the Cherry, Dayna and Sylvia went to work designing and drawing the chess pieces.



And then the pieces were cut out with a jigsaw.



With truly impressive results!


Cherry, Sylvia and Dayna painted the pieces black and white.



Dayna suggested decorating each piece with a unique design and generously brought along her colour paints for the task.



Several other team members helped set the pieces in concrete using the rings that had previously been cut out.


And the participants discovered artistic talents they didn’t know they had!!


The team was very creative, painting native birds and other interesting scenes on the pieces.




And they didn’t always restrict their painting efforts to the chess pieces!


The next morning the paint and cement had dried.  The first task was to remove the ring moulds and clean up the pieces.



And then came the interesting challenge of transporting the board and pieces from the nursery up to the DoEHA Grove.  The team lifted the board and placed it in the back of the ute.



We then drove it up—very slowly.  We parked the ute as close to the site as possible and carried the board down and put it in place.



And set up the pieces.



The chessboard is an amazing accomplishment and is this team’s unique contribution to the DoEHA Grove.  Future teams will make storage boxes for the chess pieces and benches to sit on.  And maybe play a game or two!


New Walking Track

As a result of the improvements in the area around the hut and after giving consideration for future plans for developing the Grove, the team decided that another walking track to provide easier access to the hut would be desirable.  They chose a route that would come down from one of the roads that borders the Grove and the team decided to put in a series of switchbacks so that in the future, visitors who might not be able to walk up and down steps would still be able to access the grove.

It was challenging track work because the ground had not been prepared.  As a result the team not only had to relocate some trees, they also had to cut through weeds and vegetation to clear the path.

The route was marked out using stakes and the team cleared the track from the hut area up to the road.












The 35 metre track will be used by visitors for many years to come and is an excellent addition to the CUE Haven infrastructure as it now gives an easier access to the DoEHA Grove and provides visitors with additional options for exploring the property.


Additional Tasks

In addition to the major projects we accomplished, the hard working team also did some maintenance work that will have long term benefits.

Back in January, a DoEHA residential group had built a chair which was temporarily installed along the walking track in a place where visitors could both take a rest and enjoy views of the Kaipara Harbour.

This week they fastened the chair in place so that it wouldn’t move and the team also built a platform around it so that visitors could easily and safely access it.







Last year a team started a mosaic of the DoEHA logo at one end of the Grove.  The mosaic is largely complete and has generated a lot of interest from visitors since it was put in.  The plan is to finish it off with a brick border and the team worked to clear the area around the mosaic and dig a foundation for the brickwork which will be done by a future team.




Finally, when CUE Haven was a farm, old bathtubs were used as water troughs for the stock.  Several of the tubs are still around and some of the team members thought it would be interesting to do something artistic with one of them.

They brought the tub down and spent some time brainstorming.


They decided to paint it with a mural and install it as a painting/sculpture along the new walking track.  Unfortunately, they didn’t get a chance to finish the work, but did clean it and paint a first coat and a future team will take over the project and get the tub installed in the Grove.


The team worked hard all week and accomplished an amazing amount of work but they also took some time to relax and enjoy each other’s company.

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 really enjoyed working with this team and were impressed by how well they got along and worked together.

A big thank you to Zoe for being an excellent team leader. Her great leadership style helped bring the team together and assisted in making this a very successful and fun week.  Thanks, Zoe! We look forward to having you back to lead another DoEHA residential at CUE Haven.


And many thanks to Kevin, Dayna and Matt.  Matt took half a day off work and Kevin and Dayna gave up part of their school holidays to help out most of this week. We really appreciate your time, talent and contribution and very much look forward to having you back. Thank You!

We also want to say a big thank you to Andy Woodhouse, DoEHA Co-Director of Training and Development for his enthusiasm, creative ideas and continued support. Also as Tom is still out of action due to a broken leg, Andy freed up his schedule this week and was on site each day to work with the team and provide invaluable help and guidance.  Thanks Andy!


And most of all we want to thank the great team of gold award participants.  They quickly came together as a team and everyone was a major contributor both to the success of the week as well as to the DoEHA Grove.

Your tree planting, track work and artistic efforts this week will be appreciated and enjoyed by the many visitors to CUE Haven for many years to come. THANK YOU!

We wish you all much happiness and success in the future. We would be thrilled to have you return to lead a DoEHA gold residential!! And do come back to CUE Haven with your family and friends to see how things are progressing and to play a game of chess. THANKS AGAIN!!



One Comment leave one →
  1. July 19, 2014 8:46 pm

    Wow! What an awesome group. Very inspiring! Sorry to hear about the broken leg, Tom. Best wishes for a speedy healing x

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