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Avondale Intermediate School—8 June 2016

June 9, 2016

We have been involved with Auckland Council’s Trees for Survival (TFS) programme since 2008 and this year we were delighted to have Avondale Intermediate come out to CUE Haven for the first time.

A few weeks ago we went out to the school to pick up the plants the students had grown in their nursery.   We met Doug, the teacher, and a number of students and they helped us load the plants onto the truck.

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Today twenty students – Aryan, Bertrand, Christian, Deborah, Ellie, Eunice, Hazel, Hohaia, Isadora, James, Jennifer, Lynelle, Maanasi, Maywand, Mohibullah, Noah, Pelekata, Rhiarn. Sosoia and Ted came out to plant the trees.  They were joined by teachers Doug, Kieni and Tuakau.

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The students arrived a little after ten.  We got acquainted over morning tea and Mahrukh gave a welcome and a short introduction to the CUE Haven project.

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We then took a short walk down to the wetlands where the students would be planting.

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Gail Farrell, TFS coordinator, had arrived earlier and laid out the flax, cabbage trees and cypress for the students to plant.

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She then gave a safety briefing and planting demo and the students went to work.

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We were planting along the boardwalk and filling in gaps in the prior year plantings.

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It was mostly dry along the boardwalk but there were some muddy areas!

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But no matter what the conditions, everyone kept smiling and working hard.  We even had to bring up more plants because they accomplished more than we expected!

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When we finished planting, the hard working students picked up the empty plant bags for recycling and helped clean the spades too.

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We then went back to the nursery and cleaned up before lunch.

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It was then time for a relaxing lunch.  The students were also treated to delicious hot chocolate milk generously provided by Nestle NZ. Thanks Nestle!

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To give the students a real appreciation of the importance of planting trees in wetlands, we invited Rachel Griffiths and Shelley Hackett of Auckland Council’s Waicare programme to give the students a study session on water quality and macroinvertebrates.  They were assisted by Louisa Copestake, a biodiversity management student from Unitec who is doing research at CUE Haven on macroinvertebrates.

While the students were having lunch, Rachel and Shelley went out into the field to gather samples for testing and observation.

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The presentation started with an overview of water quality issues and why we should be concerned about it.  Rachel and Shelley then showed the students a variety of experiments to test and evaluate water quality and explained what the results meant.

The first experiment was water temperature.  The students learned that cool water is better for water plants and animals.  They took the temperature of the water samples and the outside air and compared the results.

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The outside temperature was 20.8 and the water was 16.2 degrees which is a good relationship.   The next test was for pH levels.   Rachel and Shelly showed the students how to do the test and then had them help to interpret the results.

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For the remaining part of the session, the students did two activities.  The first was testing the water clarity and the second was studying water samples to identify macroinvertebrates, which are creatures that live in waterways and are visible without a microscope. The type and variety of animals found are a further indication of the health of the streams.

The group broke into smaller teams and moved around so that everyone could do both the experiments and observations.

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Water clarity is tested by looking through a long sample tube to see how much light can pass through the water.  Cleaner water without a lot of sediment is better for wildlife.

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Rachel and Shelley laid out trays of samples and charts with pictures of the different kinds of creatures the students might find.

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They found a nice selection of creatures including a big damsel fly larva.

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Rachel, Shelley and Louisa worked with each team to help them with the observation and identification process.

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Once everyone had a chance to complete all of the experiments and observations it was time to head back to town.  But before they left the students even helped straighten up!

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It was a fun day of planting and learning and the Avondale Intermediate students were wonderful guests.

We’d like to thank Louisa for coming out to help for the waicare session.

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And a big thank you to Gail of TFS and Shelley and Rachel of Waicare.

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Gail, as always, the planting day went very well thanks to your organisation and support before and on the day, and we really appreciate all your help.

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Rachel and Shelley, your waicare presentation was very educational and also thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you so much for your continued support and we very much look forward to having you back for more waicare sessions with other school groups.

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We also want to thank Auckland Council for their continued support of our efforts to make CUE Haven a space for outdoor environmental learning and for sponsoring TFS and Waicare which are such great environmental education programmes for the students.

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And a huge thank you to Doug, Kieni and Tuakau.  It was great meeting you and we really enjoyed working with you. You should be very proud of your students!

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And finally a very BIG THANK YOU to all the students. Thank you for not only growing the lovely trees in your school nursery, but for also coming out to plant them. You have made a significant contribution to the CUE Haven restoration project and our environment. You should all be very proud of your efforts and contribution!

We really enjoyed meeting all of you and working with you.  We were very impressed with how polite and hardworking you all were and also how enthusiastic and keen you were to learn new things.  We wish you the best of luck with your studies and we do hope you will come back and see us (and your trees) again soon!

Many thanks again!!

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