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The SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies—14 & 16 June 2016

June 17, 2016

The School for Field Studies (SFS) is a US-based global organisation that provides university students interested in ecology and environmental studies the opportunity to study overseas.  Students studying at the SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies, based in Australia, have the opportunity to visit New Zealand to learn more about New Zealand’s temperate rain forests.

For the third consecutive year, the students’ New Zealand trip included a stay at CUE Haven and Mataia, our neighbours across the road.

The group arrived at CUE Haven after lunch on Tuesday and included students Brenda, Brooke, Caitlyn, Chase, Christian, Daniel, Hannah, Holly, Ian, Josh, Julia, Julianne, Kaitlin, Kathy, Kaylee, Laura, Lindsey, Mark, Melissa, Nick, Robin, Ryan and Taryn.

The group was led by Centre Director Amanda Freeman, lecturers Catherine Pohlman and Justus Kithiia, and student affairs managers Lucia and Gregory, and intern Wes.

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We started by getting acquainted.  The students and staff introduced themselves and told us a little about their backgrounds.  Then Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and Thomas described the work the students would be doing during their stay as well as a safety briefing.

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Thomas then took the group for a short walk around the property and explained the restoration plan and demonstrated how it is being implemented in both the wetlands and other areas of the property.  He also explained our pest and weed control procedures and pointed out tracking tunnels, bait boxes and traps.

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We then headed out to the wetlands to do some infill planting of flaxes, cabbage trees and cyperus.  Part of our wetlands management process involves reclaiming the wetland areas that have been invaded by kikuyu and mercer grass and the plantings will be a great help in expanding the coverage of native species in the wetlands.

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The students weren’t afraid to get stuck in and clear out unwanted vegetation to make room for their plants.

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The boardwalk the students were using for access has been constructed entirely by our amazing volunteers, and the 2014 SFS team helped build the section in the picture below!

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And they weren’t afraid of the interesting creatures they found!

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The hardworking group worked on right till dusk and managed to get all the allocated trees planted in the wetlands. Yeah!

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Some of the students were staying at CUE Haven and the others at Mataia, and the group had lunch and dinner at the Glorit Hall down the road.

That night after dinner the group went for a bush walk at CUE Haven and got a chance to see glowworms in the little grotto by the waterfall in the gully.  It was a crisp clear night and they also got a good look at the Southern Hemisphere stars.

The next day the students spent the day working at Mataia, planting and exploring the mature bush there and learning about the kiwi releases and how kiwi are monitored and protected on the property.

On Thursday early morning the whole group reconvened at CUE Haven.

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In contrast to Tuesday’s wetlands planting, the plan was to plant pioneer trees in areas that had been planted in previous years but where the canopy was not filling in.

We hiked up to the start of the track where most of the planting would be done.

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Because we were going to planting in a variety of areas, we dropped the plants in a central location and carried them out to the sites.

It was challenging planting as we had to carry the plants a long way into the bush. The students planted manuka, kanuka, mahoi, mako mako, pittosporum and cabbage trees and the students also had to identify the best places to plant them.

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The group also had to cope with some nasty weeds like gorse and blackberry but they weren’t afraid to attack them and make room for their trees.

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In spite of various challenges and a few unexpected rain showers the group kept smiling.  They were so productive that we ended up bringing more trees for them to plant!

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In just a couple of hours the enthusiastic and hardworking students had accomplished an amazing amount of weed clearing and planting.

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When we had finished planting the students even helped clean all the equipment.

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And had well earned cake and frozen mango Smooze before we said good bye.

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It was a short visit but we were very happy and impressed with all that the group accomplished.

We want to thank Amanda for all her help on site and for arranging the visit and making sure everything went smoothly.  We really enjoy having SFS students and staff at CUE Haven and value our relationship with SFS and very much appreciate your continued support.

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And we also want to thank all the SFS staff for their help and for helping us work with the students to make sure they got the most value from their time with us.

And a very BIG THANK YOU to all the students.  We really enjoyed meeting all of you and working with you. We were very impressed by your motivation, enthusiasm and interest in the project and NZ native flora and fauna.

You have all made a major contribution not only to the CUE Haven restoration project but also to our planet.  The wetlands and forest you helped create will create a sustainable habitat and provide food and shelter for a variety of plant and bird life over the years and provide educational opportunities and enjoyment to generations of visitors.  What a fantastic legacy!!  THANK YOU!!

We wish you all much success and happiness in your future endeavours and we do hope you will keep in touch and come back to visit us at CUE Haven and enjoy the native reserve you have helped create.

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Thanks again!

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