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Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Residential—11-15 July 2016

July 16, 2016

This week we hosted the eighteenth DoEHA Gold Award residential.   The July residential can be challenging because it is in the middle of winter and it can be wet and messy.  But the weather mostly cooperated and we had a great group of students who got a lot done.

The group arrived on late Monday morning and included Agnieske, Catherine, James, Katie, Kyle, Sana, Stella, Virginia and William.  Jena, who had previously been to CUE Haven for her gold award residential was the team leader this week.

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Also, Andy Woodhouse, DoEHA Director of Training and Development and past team leaders Brigid and Kayla were on site for part of the week.  Richard Stevens, an ecology student at Unitec in Auckland also joined us for two of the days to help out.

We got acquainted over morning tea.  Mahrukh then gave a welcome and history of the CUE Haven project and Thomas gave a safety briefing and an overview of activities planned for the week.

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Winter is our planting season and so the primary objective for the week was for the team to focus on planting and to also do some maintenance work on the walking track.

After lunch we loaded up the trees to take up to the planting site.

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And then went to work! The team started planting in the wetlands adjacent to the DoEHA mosaic.  The area had been prepped but there was a lot of dead grass to contend with.  It was also a wetland which meant that it was muddy, but the team coped very well with the challenges.

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The next day the team moved up to another challenging planting area.  There is a section inside one of our fenced bush areas that was never planted and was overgrown with kikuyu grass.  We’d earlier sprayed it out for planting but the dead grass was a thick layer with lots of roots to cut through.

Once again the team coped very well and quickly finished planting the area.

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The thick grass was a pain to plant in, but it was a nice place to relax!

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We had finished up the bulk of the planting at the end of the day and Kyle demonstrated an efficient way to put all the gear away.

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To take a break from planting, the following day we took a walk along the boundary fence with our neighbor who is grazing cattle.  There is a hot wire to keep the cattle from paying us unwanted visits and it regularly needs to be checked and cleared for vegetation that may be growing on it.  Each team member armed themselves with different kinds of shears, loppers and secateurs and we cleared the entire fence line.

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At the top of the property we found a section of fence with broken wires and William taught the team how to do some effective repair work.

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In one of the planting areas there was an old fence that was largely broken down.  The team helped cut it out from the rest of the fence and we carried it away.

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The other big activity the group worked on was walking track remedial work.  The walking tracks get a lot of wear and tear plus we are always finding ways to make them safer and easier to use. We needed the team to assist with the track remediation, however, there were still trees left to plant.

Katie, Sana and Stella volunteered to continue planting the following day. They did infill planting in a lot of areas that had previously been planted but needed some additional plants.

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They covered a lot of area and despite the wind and rain, the team worked away smiling till all the trees were planted!!

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Meanwhile, the remainder of the group worked on the track maintenance. We split the group into two teams.

Brigid, Catherine, Kyle and Virginia tackled a section of track near the wetlands to fix some erosion problems by boxing in steps and track sections and also building a small retaining wall.  There were several sections needing attention.

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Meanwhile Agnieske, James, Jena and William worked on other sections of the track, boxing in steps and installing retaining walls.

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Working with the long boards was a challenge and required a lot of digging and measuring to get everything straight and level.

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The result is a dramatic improvement in the appearance and safety of the track.

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In this area the steps were wearing out because people were taking a short cut.  The team shored up the sides of the steps and even came up with the idea to plant trees to prevent future trampers from short cutting the corner.

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On Friday the whole team worked to fix some steps heading down from the DoEHA hut.  The section of track is steep and subject to erosion.  They cut out and boxed in several steps.

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It was a challenge digging in the heavy clay but the result is well worth it.

The team finished off the new track sections by covering them with a layer of metal to keep the track surface safe in all weather.  We first loaded metal into buckets.

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And then carried it out to the track where it was spread out and raked in.

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Thanks to the team’s efforts the walking tracks are nicer and safer than ever.

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In addition to a lot of hard work, the group also took time to relax and enjoy each other’s company.  The team went for night walks in the bush, watched movies, and played cards and other games. The variety of delicious Nescafe Menu coffees generously provided by Nestle NZ for our volunteers was much appreciated by all.  Thanks Nestle!

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The team accomplished an amazing amount of work and managed to complete all the planting–a fantastic effort by the whole team!!

We’d like to thank Brigid, Kayla and Richard for taking time out and helping us this week.  We really appreciate it!

Andy, thanks for organising the DoEHA residential and for your continuing support.

A BIG thank you to Jena for leading the team and helping us accomplish so much.

And our many many thanks to the hard working gold award participants.  We very much enjoyed getting to know you and working with you.  We were very impressed by the way you came together as a team and worked so well together so quickly.

You have made a major contribution to the CUE Haven project and to our planet.  The trees you planted will create a sustainable habitat for a variety of plant and animal life and also provide a green space for the community to enjoy for years. And the walking track remediation will ensure that visitors have a safe and easy path to explore the growing native forest.

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 seeing you again.

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Thanks again!

 

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