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Conservation Volunteers—20–24 October 2014

October 26, 2014

This week we had a great team of Conservation Volunteers help us with a variety of maintenance tasks around CUE Haven.

The group arrived on Monday morning and included Alex, Anna, Carina, Catherine, Fabienne, Julia, Lea N., Lea S., Pascal, and Tiphaine   Participants represented Germany, France, Switzerland and the UK.  The team leader was Bruce Eade from New Zealand.  It was great seeing Bruce again as he has brought CVNZ teams out to CUE Haven several times.

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We got acquainted over morning tea and then Mahrukh gave a welcome and introduction to the CUE Haven project and Tom gave a brief overview of the work planned for the week.

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The primary task that the team worked on was walking track maintenance, and there were lots of different jobs to do.  The first involved clearing away vegetation that had grown on or over the track over the winter.

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Next there was a section of track that many visitors found difficult to negotiate. It involved some steep steps with sharp corners.  We asked the team to study the area and see if they could come up with an alternative arrangement that would be easier to walk over.  They decided to replace an entire section of the steps with a long ramp that would have only a few gentle steps.

It was a complicated job.  First they had to bring up the materials they would need.

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Then up at the site they had to take out the old steps and retaining walls, build a frame for the ramp and put in new steps.

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The result is much neater, safer and easier to use.

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Another challenge was a section of the boardwalk where several steps were flooded over.  The team dug out the problem steps, improved the drainage and built an additional boardwalk section over a particularly wet section.

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The result is a great improvement that will make the boardwalk safe to use year round and will ensure that visitors don’t get wet feet.

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Julia hurt her ankle and gave it a rest for a day, but she continued to help out by potting up some karamu seedlings that the team had found growing too close to the track.  They will be kept in the nursery until next spring when they should be big enough to be planted out in the field.

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Another big job the team handled was some general clean up and weeding.  The biggest issue was some large gorse infestations.  Gorse is an invasive weed and a nasty bush with lots of thorns.  It’s also a good idea to get rid of it now because the seeds produced by the flowers can live for a long time and that makes gorse very difficult to get rid of.

The team went out to the gorse areas and cut it back and sprayed the stumps with weed killer to prevent the bushes from growing back.  It was a difficult job but very important to the restoration project.

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They also cleaned up and weeded the area by the front gate.

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And walked the boundary fence and cleared the vegetation on the fence and on the electric hot wire to ensure that the hot wire is operating at maximum capacity and prevents the neighbours’ cows from paying us a visit.

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There were two benches along the walking track that were rather high for our younger visitors, so the team cut off some of the support posts to make the benches lower and also relocated another bench to a steep part of the track so visitors could take a rest after climbing up.

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The hard working team even took their breaks in the field. And the iced Peach and Lemon Nestea generously sponsored by Nestle NZ was much appreciated by the volunteers. Thanks Nestle!

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On Tuesday and Wednesday we had two school groups out for day visits.  The students would be working in the nursery and so on Monday the team helped us get the nursery cleaned up, organised and ready for the students.

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During the school visit on Wednesday, some of the team members participated in the learning sessions on water care and learned about how human activity such as commercial and residential development and farming and forestry affect waterways, how to test for water quality and how to identify the macroinvertebrates living in ponds and streams.

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The team made a major contribution to our project by helping out with the maintenance tasks but they also made their own unique contribution to the project.  Our planned project for this summer is to put in a new walking track that will allow visitors to explore the stream gully from the other side.  The planned track had been marked out and the team went through with spades and rakes and loppers and cleared most of the track.  It is now ready for other teams to bench and finish off the track and the team’s work will make the project much easier.

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Despite the hard work, the team was always smiling and cheerful and before they left on Friday we presented our new friends with CUE Haven friendship bracelets.

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We’d like to thank Conservation Volunteers NZ for making the team available this week and many thanks to the anonymous corporate benefactor who sponsored the visit.

And a very big THANK YOU to Bruce and the team.  We really enjoyed working with you all.  You accomplished a lot and have made a major contribution to CUE Haven.  Bruce, thanks for your leadership and advice, and we look forward to having you back with another team.

We wish the overseas team members a great stay in New Zealand, a safe trip home and all the best in your future endeavours.  We hope you will come back to see us on your next visit to New Zealand.  Thanks again!

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