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Ficino School—6 May 2015

May 8, 2015

Our 2015 planting season got off to a great start today as twelve Year 5 students from Ficino School in Auckland joined us for a day of planting, leaning and exploring.  The students were accompanied by teacher Ashley Leathley and parents Mary and Glyn.

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Also joining us for the day was Tori Christie of Auckland Council’s Wastewise programme to give the students a presentation of waste minimisation.

The group arrived at about ten and after morning tea, Mahrukh gave the group an overview of the CUE Haven project and the plan for the day.  Tom then gave a safety briefing.

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The first task was tree planting and the team took a short walk out to the planting site.

This year’s planting area is very challenging.  It has not been cut or grazed since 2009 and it was mostly kikuyu grass which has gone rank.  Because it is so steep we haven’t been able to have it cut over the years.  To prepare the site, we had it sprayed twice and last month had it slashed.  The result is that the area is covered with dead brown grass and there are still some thick kikuyu roots in some spots.

Tom gave a planting demo and explained the best way to clear the ground of dead vegetation and the team went to work.

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It was an unusually warm day for May but the group coped very well with the heat and some of the other challenges.  For example, some of the trees didn’t want to come out of their planting bags:

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And some of the dead grass that we were planting in was hard to get through sometimes.

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 But by working together we were able to get through the worst challenges!

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And planting can be fun but dirty work!

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In just over an hour of hard work the team had planted over 100 trees!  An amazing effort and a great start to our planting season.  The group helped clean up the area and then took an early lunch.

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After lunch the group went for a short walk in the bush.  Tom showed them different aspects of the property and talked about the CUE Haven restoration project and related some of the things the students were leaning in class to things they observed in the field.

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The students learned how to tell the difference between manuka and kanuka trees.

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They observed the effects of seed dispersal through wind and by birds.

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And they also saw a lot of native skinks and made friends with some of them.

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Tom also explained some of the challenges that introduced pests create for native New Zealand plants and animals and demonstrated some of our pest control work.  We had put out some tracking tunnel cards the night before.

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And gave the group a chance to see if they could figure out what creatures had visited the tunnels.

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And we also demonstrated the trapping techniques that we use to catch possums, stoats, weasels and rats.

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After the walk, the group headed back to the cottage for Tori’s Wastewise presentation.  The objective of Tori’s presentation was to give the group a better understanding of where the materials we use and discard on a daily basis come from and where they end up.  The students learned about how much waste is produced every day in Auckland and how most of it ends up in landfills.  They learned about alternatives to waste, which include reusing, recycling and reducing the use of items that might otherwise be thrown away.

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Tori had the students do an exercise where they tried to figure out what natural resources are consumed in the manufacture of common items such as paper, plastic and tins.

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They then discussed which of those items could be reused, recycled or reduced. To finish the session, Tori had the students play another game in which they are asked to remove beans from a bowl.  Some students are given chopsticks, some small spoons and some larger spoons and cups and some are told they can only use their little fingers.

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Tori counted time as the students worked on moving the beans and they quickly saw that how different tools resulted in beans being moved at different rates.  Students using the cup emptied the bowl in no time.

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Tori and the students then discussed how as humans have developed, we are using up resources at a faster rate. The beans in the blow represented the Earth’s natural resources and the spoons, chopsticks, etc. represented the technical progress that has enabled humans to use resources more rapidly over the ages. The game was intended to demonstrate the need to reduce consumption and conserve resources for future generations.

Tori closed the session by having each student describe what they could do at home to apply what they had learned.

We want to thank Tori for joining us and for her excellent presentation.  And we wish to thank the Auckland Council Wastewise programme for supporting the CUE Haven project and making Tori available for the day.

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We also want to thank Nestle NZ for providing Nestle hot chocolate drinks for the group to enjoy.

A big thank you to teacher Ashley.  This is the third time Ashley has brought a group of students out to CUE Haven – we really appreciate it and enjoy working with you and your students.

And many thanks to parents Mary and Glyn for giving up a day and helping out.  You added a lot of value to the effort.

And finally a very big THANK YOU to the hard working students.  We are always impressed by how motivated and polite Ficino students are and we really enjoyed having you visit us.  Best of luck in the future and come back and see us again!

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