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Visit By Unitec Ecology Students—19 August 2016

August 19, 2016

Unitec is an Auckland-based institute of technology with a dual commitment to post-graduate and degree level study as well as vocational education and training.

Since 2010, our good friend Mel Galbraith, a Senior Lecturer in Ecology at Unitec, has brought his third year ecology students to CUE Haven for a field trip.  The trip gives students a chance to observe a restoration project in process and because we have been planting since 2008, they can readily see different stages in the regeneration process and learn about the issues and challenges associated with each phase of the work.

Joining Mel were Dr. Dan Blanchon, Unitec Head of Environmental and Animal Science, who has also been a frequent visitor to CUE Haven on these field trips and students Amy, Bevan, Charlie, David, Hannah. Hemelleia, John, Lizzie, Lizzy, Louisa, Mikey, Roz and Sinead.

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The group arrived at one and we spent some time getting acquainted over tea.  Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and explained the objectives of our restoration work and the planting process and Thomas talked about our weed and pest control efforts.

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Bev Trowbridge, our neighbor at Muriwai Valley Farm, is doing pioneering work in sustainable organic farming and joined the group briefly to speak to the students about her interesting project.

Thomas then gave a safety briefing and we took the Unitec team for a walk around the property.

We started the tour in the nursery and explained how we converted the disused milking shed into the plant nursery.

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We also showed some “before” pictures of the property to give the students an idea of what it looked like when it was a farm and to show them how the restoration work had changed the property.

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We then took a walk through the wetlands and pointed out some of the features and challenges of the wetland planting area.

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As we moved out of the wetlands the students were able to see the different types of vegetation and land and soil characteristics.

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They also got a good look at the recent slip on the property and we shared with the group what we had learned about the cause of the slip and the remedial steps we will be taking as we replant the area.

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They also got a closer look at the slip.  Here is Mel going as far down the road as is now possible.

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Along the walk the students were able to see many interesting features – like a naturally occurring wild bee hive in a puriri tree.

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We carried on almost to the top of the property with frequent stops along the way to observe various aspects of the regenerating bush.

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We also stopped at the locations where one of the students, Louisa, who is doing research at CUE Haven, has been gathering macroinvertebrate specimens for her research and her classmates helped her conduct some water quality tests and collect samples.

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And she was very happy with the results! Here’s to more Mayflies!!

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Many thanks Louisa for selecting CUE Haven for your research project. Your findings will be a very useful benchmark for helping to determine how the restoration project has impacted macroinvertebrates on the property.

We finished up the walk and had a debriefing at the cottage before the group headed back to town.

As always, we had a very enjoyable visit.  We learn a lot from these visits and are always impressed with the enthusiasm and varied interests and knowledge of the Unitec students and staff.

We want to thank Mel for his continued support and for organising the visit.  And many thanks to Dan and the students for taking the time to come out and for their interest in our project.

It was a pleasure meeting all of you and we wish you all the very best in your endeavours and we hope you will all come back to visit us again soon!

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