Westlake Boys High School—1 December 2015
Westlake Boys High School on Auckland’s North Shore is one of New Zealand’s largest schools for boys. It has a strong focus on academic success and a culture of achievement. The year 9 & 10 students have been studying environmental sustainability and have been doing field projects to reinforce their classroom studies.
As part of the project a group of 29 students and three teachers came to CUE Have for a visit and to help us work on our summer walking track project. The students got a chance to explore an ecological restoration project and learn more about how planting and weed and pest control all work together to improve water quality and protect the land and native plants and animals.
The group arrived about ten and included teachers Amy Bennett, Natasha Leighton and Nigel Kennard.
We got acquainted over morning tea and then gave the students an overview of the CUE Haven project, the work planned for the day and a safety briefing.
Because the new walking track is at the top of the property in the area we will be planting in 2016, it was not practical to walk up to the site. Instead we drove the group up in small teams. While waiting for the rest of the group, some of the students explored the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Grove and had a quick game of chess.
Once everyone was on site we went to work. Thomas gave another safety briefing and a demo of the different kinds of track tasks to be done.
The students quickly got into the work–clearing vegetation, benching and levelling the track and even cutting steps in steep sections. We had previously mapped out the track and sprayed the grass and it was a real challenge clearing away the dead kikuyu grass, which has thick deep spreading roots.
Once the grass is cleared away, the next job is to smooth out the track surface and cut away any additional roots and vegetation.
As the vegetation is cleared away, the underlying terrain is revealed and it is then possible to see how the track will need to be formed. Sometimes it simply needs to levelled, other times, when the grade is too steep, we cut in steps to make it easier to walk on.
Step cutting requires careful planning and thinking to come up with the best solution. No two situations are the same and the students were fantastic at working together and coming up with innovative and practical approaches that greatly add to the ease and safety and appearance of the track.
As each area of track was finished the group moved forward, continually lengthening the track. They just kept going and in just a couple of hours managed to do 75.1 metres of track—an amazing accomplishment!!
Future teams over the summer will continue the track to the top of the property and also help us box in and frame the steps.
When it was time for lunch, the group took a leisurely walk back to the cottage. Thomas pointed out some additional features of the property and described some of the issues associated with the restoration project such as pest and weed control.
The group then had a relaxing lunch before heading back to school.
We’d like to thank Nestle NZ for providing Nestle Hot Chocolate drinks which the students really enjoyed.
Also a big thank you to Karen of Bayes Coaches for driving the bus and also helping out with some nursery work while the students were out in the field.
Our many thanks to Amy, Natasha and Nigel for joining the students and helping in the field, and a special thank you to Amy for all her assistance with organising the trip today.
And finally, an extra special thank you to the students for all their hard work today. We were truly impressed by the Westlake Boys High School group. They were courteous and enthusiastic and pleasure to work with. They listened and gained an understanding of what we were trying to accomplish and applied both brain and muscle power to come up with ways to make the track better.
We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we enjoyed meeting you and working with you all. You have made a lasting contribution to CUE Haven and New Zealand’s natural heritage. The track you built today will be used and enjoyed by visitors for many years to come as they explore the growing native forest at CUE Haven.
We wish you all the best with your studies and future endeavours and we look forward to having you all back again to walk the completed track! THANK YOU!!