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Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Residential—5-9 October 2015

October 11, 2015

This week twelve Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award (DoEHA) participants were at CUE Haven to complete the residential requirement for their gold award.  This was the fifteenth gold award residential at CUE Haven as usual we had a great time and got a lot done.

The group arrived on Monday morning and included Abinaya, Amber, Ben, Ella, Hafsa, Jack, Katherine, Olivia, Spencer and Sarah.  Brigid and Katy were the team leaders.  Both had done their residential requirement at CUE Haven previously and it was great to have them back leading the team as co-leaders.


We got acquainted over morning tea and gave the participants an overview of the CUE Haven project, the planned work for the week and a safety briefing.


We then went for a short tour of the property to give the participants a better feel for the project and the work they would be doing.

Tasks for the week included building a wishing well, building a picnic table, spring weeding, track maintenance and sign installation.

Because it is springtime, the trees at CUE Haven are starting to grow nicely.  But the weeds are right behind them and we asked the team to do some weeding in areas that are difficult to spray.  It was a messy job but the group kept smiling and got a lot done and made some major improvements in the appearance of the area around the cottage, orchard and along the walking tracks.







Some of the weeds put up a good fight but the team managed to win!



Track maintenance

Construction of the walking track in the DoEHA Grove at CUE Haven started in January 2013 and each residential team since then has worked to expand and improve the track.  This week we worked on improving drainage on the track and also repairing several steps that were showing signs of wear and erosion.

There is a section in the track that crosses a small stream which is dry for most of the year.  When the track was initially built, we buried two culvert pipes under the track to handle the stream.  This past winter, during a particularly heavy rainstorm, the pipes were overwhelmed and a section of the track was washed away.

The team tackled the problem by first clearing up the area and then digging out the pipes.


They dug a deep channel to divert the water and then built a small bridge over the channel.  This eliminates the risk of the pipes backing up and will protect the track in future heavy rains.

The base of the bridge was a shipping pallet reinforced with small railway sleepers and the team dug out a foundation for it.



They then planked over the top to create a nice platform.



The final step was to nail down wire mesh to ensure that the surface does not get slippery in wet weather.


The new bridge is a great addition to the area of the track near two benches and the mosaic.

The walking track needs constant maintenance especially in spring after winter rain, and some of the steps in particular needed work.  We showed the team some of the problem areas and encouraged them to come up with solutions to improve the appearance and ease of use of the track.


  In some places we needed to add new steps.



In some places it was necessary to restore eroded benching and to level the track.


In other places the solution was to box up a step to prevent erosion and to keep the path level.



The team did a great job and significantly improved several sections of the track.



Bath Tub Table

During the July 2015 residential, the DoEHA team explored the property and scavenged four bath tubs that had been used as water troughs for the cattle when CUE Haven was a farm.. That team designed and built a table out of two of the old bathtubs but did not have a chance to paint the tubs or develop something equally creative with the other two tubs.

Because the bath tub table has been so useful and popular with visitors, we decided to have this team make another one.

This team painted the original table with rust proof paint and also sanded the top to remove some of the rough edges.



Then it was on to building “Janis” – the new table.

The base of the two tubs were bolted together.


It was then necessary to install reinforcing timber to secure the top boards.


Once the top boards were installed and the base painted, the table top was sanded and the finished table was installed by the cottage.


The table was immediately put to use by the team for meals and games.


A big thank you to the table crew!


Sign Installation

Another task the group tackled was to install some tree identification and inspirational signs in the field.  These signs have been designed by talented young graphic design artists, Paige Keene and Yan Heere. The signs were funded thanks to a grant from Auckland Council’s Rodney Environmental Education Fund and a generous donation from Capitol Signs Services Ltd.

We had six signs which we wanted to install near the appropriate trees which meant that the team had to carry the signs, tools, cement and water into the field!

The first step involved digging the hole for the signpost.   We used a manual post hole digger and everyone took turns having a go.





The posts were set in concrete to keep the signs secure.  This involved mixing the concrete in the hole and making sure the sign was straight as the cement dried.




The signs all look beautiful and are a great addition to the CUE Haven landscape. A huge thank you to the installation team!


Wishing Well

The most challenging project the team did this week was building a wishing well in the DoEHA grove which would also serve as a donation box.

We did some research and came up with a design and then asked our young friend Kevin Sutherland, who has twice been a team leader for the DoEHA gold award residentials at CUE Haven, to help out with the technical aspects of the build.

The first step was to prepare the base of the well.  This required building octagonal rings.  Kevin measured and cut the frames and the team assembled them.




Once the frames were complete, they were connected to the supporting posts.


Wooden planks for the sides of the well were cut to shape.


The base of the well was filled in.





Once the sides were finished, the group discussed ideas for decorating the well and decided that carving designs would be nice.  Kevin gave them some guidance on carving techniques and the team members got creative coming up with ideas for designs.




While the carving continued, the team also started to paint and stain the well.


In the meantime, some of the group started to build the roof.  Kevin cut out the frame boards and the team assembled and painted the roof section.




While the wishing well was under construction, some of the team went up to the Grove to prepare the site for the well.

We selected a relatively flat site near the track and the hut and cleared away the vegetation.  Once the site was clear, we brought up some timber to frame the area.


The area was double checked for grade and level and the team then installed a framework to clearly define the platform for the well.





The team filled up buckets of gravel to cover the surface of the platform after the well was installed.


We drove the buckets up to the end of the walking track nearest the well and then carried them down to the site.


When the platform was ready, the well was taken up to the site to be installed.



The well would be set in concrete to keep it secure so the first task was to dig the holes for the footer posts.


The concrete was then mixed for the holes and the well was put in position and levelled.



The next challenge was to install the roof.


The holes for the bolts had been drilled down in the shed and we now needed to make sure that everything would fit together.


The roof was lifted into place and bolted on.



The only high tech part of the project was using the light on Abi’s cell phone to help line up the bolt holes!


Once the well was installed there was still some additional carving and painting that needed to be done.









As this wishing well will serve as a donation box, we needed to install a secure lid on well.  The team considered options for how to make the lid.


And in the end we decided on a plywood cover which was cut and stained.


And installed on the well.



The wishing well is an amazing achievement that all of the team members worked on and everyone should be very proud of their efforts! Thank you very much! We hope this wonderful wishing well attracts lots of visitors and encourages them to make generous donations!!


In addition to all their hard work the team also took time to relax and make friends.



As a reflection of how well the team had come together, on the last day, co-leader Katy gave out special trophies to all of the participants.  They even presented the CUE Haven team of Andy, Kevin, Tom and Mahrukh with a trophy!! Wow! Thanks!!



It was a wonderful end to a very successful residential.

We’d like to thank Nestle New Zealand for providing the much appreciated Nestle hot chocolate, Milo and Nescafe Menu coffees for the participants during the week.

We also want to thank Kevin for giving up a day of his holiday to help out with the wishing well. Thanks Kevin – it was great having you back!


And as always our thanks to Andy Woodhouse, National Training and Development Director of the DoEHA for organising the residential and for his continuing support.

A BIG thank you to Brigid and Katy – you were great team leaders and also worked very hard during the week. Thanks to your leadership skills you got a group of diverse individuals to come together and work successfully as a team and accomplish so much and also have a fun time!

And many thanks to the hard working team.  It was great getting to meet you all and we really enjoyed working with you and thank you for your efforts. You got out of your comfort zone and learnt new skills. You have made a major contribution to the CUE Haven project and your work will be appreciated by the many visitors over the years.

We wish you all the best of luck as you continue to pursue your gold awards and much success and happiness in your future endeavours.  We look forward to having you back at CUE Haven either as team leaders for another residential or just to visit and see how things are progressing.

Thanks again!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Maurice Cross permalink
    October 12, 2015 8:03 am

    Looks like the Duke of Edinburgh folks had a very industrious week – lovely to see the progress made in Cue haven and best of all those youngsters will be able to bring their children back in the future to show them what they helped to create.


  1. New Educational and Inspirational Signs at CUE Haven—November 2015 |

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