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Milford School—21 and 22 October 2014

October 24, 2014

We had a very busy but fun two days this week when all the Year Four students from Milford School on Auckland’s North Shore came to CUE Haven.  Because of the size of the group (82 students, plus parents and teachers) we decided to host the students over two days.   Each student got the chance to do some work in the nursery potting up seedlings, participate in a WaiCare session to learn about water quality testing and macroinvertebrates and to learn more about native New Zealand plants and animals on a short nature walk.

On both days the groups arrived at about ten.  We had morning tea and then Mahrukh gave a brief overview of the CUE Haven project and Tom did a short safety briefing.

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Each day we split the students into two groups.

One group did a ninety minute Waicare session while the other group went to the nursery to spend a half an hour doing some potting up.  When the potting was finished, the students went on the nature walk.  After lunch, the groups rotated so that all students had a chance to do all of the activities.

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Waicare

Auckland Council Waicare educators Shelley Hackett, Rachel Griffiths and Rata Gordon were on site to lead the water testing and analysis sessions.  Before the students arrived, they collected water samples from the stream and ponds.  They then set up their work area on the boardwalk over the main stream.

Shelly, Rachel and Rata began their presentations with a discussion of the importance of water quality and an explanation about how activities such as urbanisation and farming can have a negative impact on waterways and water quality.

They then demonstrated how to test for water quality by looking at measures such as dissolved oxygen, pH and water clarity.

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The water samples were collected from two different sources on the property and included some vegetation, which is a habitat for macroinvertebrates (pond creatures).  The water samples were put it into shallow white trays to give the students a chance to study the pond life.

The Waicare educators explained the different kinds of creatures that can be found in fresh water ponds and gave the students a chance to see how many different creatures they could find and identify using a magnifying glass and field identification charts.

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The students found and identified several macroinvertebrates. And we were happy to hear that they also found samples of Free-Living Caddisfly, Flat Mayfly and Spotty Stonefly.  These creatures need good water quality to exist.  This is good news because it means that our revegetation efforts are having the desired effect of improving the quality of water in our streams and ponds.

Nursery Work 

We had a supply of kauri, rimu, kowhai, puriri, rewarewa and porokaiwhiri seedlings that needed to be potted up into larger containers.  This is very important work because as the seedlings grow, they become too large for their small pots and become root bound and might even die.

The students worked in groups of two to pot up the seedlings.  Mahrukh gave a demo and explanation of the work to be done.

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And the students went to work…..

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The students weren’t bothered when they discovered a few worms in the pots!

When each student had finished planting, they were given a magnifying glass and encouraged to explore the different plants they had just planted by comparing and contrasting leaf and stem structures.

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 The students accomplished an amazing amount of work.  The trees they potted up will stay in the nursery for another year or two and will then be planted out among the pioneer trees already planted to create a forest canopy.

Nature Walk

After the nursery session, Tom took each group on a short walk through the bush.

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The students learned more about the CUE Haven restoration project and learned a little bit about native New Zealand plants and animals.

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Tom explained some of the animal and plant pests that threaten native New Zealand plants and animals and described our pest monitoring and trapping program to attempt to manage undesirable pests.

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On their walk the students also saw skinks, snails and several kinds of birds and the students had a lot of interesting questions.

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We really enjoyed the day with the students and were impressed by their enthusiasm and interest in nature.

We would like to thank Daltons for generously providing their excellent premium potting mix that we used to pot up the seedlings.  And also thank you Nestle NZ for providing the Nescafe Menu coffees for the adults.

A big thank you to Shelley, Rachel and Rata for joining us and for their great presentations which were much appreciated and enjoyed by everyone.  Your participation added a lot of value to the day and we really appreciate your help and support.  And our thanks to Auckland Council for supporting the CUE Haven project and enabling their visit.

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We also want to thank teachers Claire, Lorna and Michelle, and teacher’s aides Lisa, Sharon and Sue and the accompanying parents – Abbey, Andrew, Ben, Emma, Fleur, Jo, Kathryn, Kimberley, Nigel, Phil, Rebecca, Rianda, Stu, Tracey, Vicky and Vivian for all their help in keeping things organised.

And extra thanks to teacher Michelle for arranging the visit and handling all the complicated logistics.  We really enjoyed working with your students and were very impressed by their behaviour and enthusiasm.

Also many thanks to Karen of Bayes Coachlines.  Over the past two years Karen has driven several bus loads of students out to CUE Haven from the North Shore schools and she always goes out of her way to help out and really made a big contribution again on both days helping in the nursery.

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And most of all we’d like to thank the Milford School students.  Thank you very much for your efforts with potting up the trees – you have made a major contribution to CUE Haven and we really appreciate it.  We very much enjoyed having you out and hope you had a fun and educational day.  We look forward to having you back out again.

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