Wainui School—22 November 2016
Today we had another great group of Year 3 and 4 students from Wainui School out to CUE Haven for a day of learning, exploring and fun.
Also joining us for the day was our friend and ecologist, Fiona, who volunteered to assist us with the activities today.
The Wainui School group of forty students, ten parents and three teachers arrived at ten and we started with a quick morning tea and then a short introduction to the CUE Haven project and a safety briefing.
There were three different activities for the students today. The first was to pot up seedlings in the nursery, the second was a field study session on invertebrates and the last was a nature walk to learn more about native New Zealand plants and animals and our restoration work.
Because of the size of the group and the limited time available, we broke into two groups and each group got a chance to do each of the activities.
Mahrukh led the potting session in the nursery. Jane Straka, one of the parents who came today is a horticulturalist and she conducted the session – training the students how to correctly pot the seedlings.
The students quickly went to work and in no time managed to transplant all of the totara, tararie and miro seedlings. The repotting is very important because the trees need larger pots and more soil in order to grow large enough to be planted out in the field.
As the students finished potting the seedlings, they placed them in the hardening up area of the nursery. The trees will stay in the nursery for a year or two until they are ready to be planted as infill trees in the bush.
At the end of the session, Mahrukh took some time to show the students some of the other canopy tree seedlings in the nursery such as kahikatea, kowhai, lancewood, matai, nikau, rewarewa and pukatea. She also gave them a quick lesson on the calls of different native NZ birds.
The students did a great job potting up the seedlings and made a wonderful contribution to the CUE Haven restoration project. Once the trees are planted in the field, they will grow up to forest giants and live for hundreds of years. Thank you!
The session on invertebrates was conducted by one of the parents, Shanthie Walker, who is an environmental educator. The session started with Shanthie talking to the students about invertebrates in general and then moved on to the different types of insects, their role in the food chain and in ensuring the health of the environment.
Shanthie then led the students through a series of activities where they learned about the characteristics of insects and how to identify them based on their unique aspects such as whether they flew or walked, how many wings they have, etc. She gave the students picture cards to give them a chance to see different varieties of insects. Each student was asked to find another student with a similar insect in terms of arrangement of wings, legs, antennae, etc.
The objective of the exercise was to get the students thinking about the many different varieties of insects and to prepare them for their identification work.
Shanthie had set up work stations and experiments for the students in the orchard. Each station had a tray and spoons and brushes and field identification guides. The students each had magnifying lenses and they explored the leaf litter to find and identify as many insects as they could.
Shanthie then led the students in an exercise to understand the role of insects in the food chain. She gave each student a picture or figure of an insect, plant or bird and had them match up each item with what creature ate what.
The third activity was the bush walk, led by Thomas. Before we left, he gave another short safety briefing and also talked a little bit about what the students would see on the walk.
During the walk, Thomas pointed out some of the different planting areas to show the students how the trees were growing and explained the difference between wetland and non-wetland plantings.
The students got a good look at some wetas sleeping in one of the many weta houses at CUE Haven which were made and installed by the Westlake Girls High School students last year.
The students also visited a grove of manuka where lots of stick insects live.
Thomas also explained some of the challenges that native New Zealand plants and animals faced because of introduced pest plants and animals. He explained the trapping activities at CUE Haven and demonstrated the tracking tunnels we use to monitor pest populations as well as the traps we use to control them.
Thomas also talked about how our pest control efforts had revitalized the puriri tree and that it was attracting lots of kereru who liked to eat the berries of the puriri. Kereru also like karaka seeds and had dropped some under the puriri tree and now there were karaka trees growing under the puriri tree. It was a chance for the students to see how many different things in nature are interconnected.
And they also got to see a wild bee hive in a puriri tree where Thomas explained some of the steps we are taking to protect the bees from varroa mites.
After the walk we had a quick lunch before the students left for their visit to our local marae. Before they left, they thanked us and gave us a generous gift.
We had another great day with the Wainui School students and we’d like to thank Nestle NZ for their ongoing support and generously providing the delicious Nestle hot chocolate milk for the students, which they thoroughly enjoyed.
Our thanks also to Daltons Landscape Supplies for their continued support of CUE Haven and for donating the potting mix used today.
Our many thanks to the parents and teachers who came out and helped ensure that everything went smoothly. And special thanks to Deputy Principal Wendy Taylor for making all the arrangements for the school visits. We enjoyed meeting you all and getting to know you and look forward to seeing you all again soon.
A huge thank you to Shanthie and Jane for conducting the activities for the students. And many thanks to Fiona for giving up a day to help out. We really appreciate valuable assistance you have all provided and look forward to having you back.
And finally a very BIG THANK YOU to all the students. We were very impressed by how polite, motivated and enthusiastic you were. We appreciated all of your questions and hope you had a good time and learned a lot.
Thank you for all your help with potting up the seedlings. The trees you potted up today will be planted at CUE Haven once they become bigger and they will create the forest of long lived canopy trees that will be enjoyed for many generations. What a wonderful contribution you have all made to our planet and our community!
We look forward to seeing you all again next year!
THANKS AGAIN EVERYONE!!