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Westlake Boys High School—2 December 2016

December 3, 2016

Westlake Boys High School on Auckland’s North Shore is one of New Zealand’s largest schools for boys.  It has a strong focus on academic success and a culture of achievement.

As part of their end of term activities, the students were given to opportunity to work on community projects and nineteen of them selected CUE Haven for their activity day.  For the second year in a row, Social Sciences teacher Amy Bennet brought out a group of year 9 and 10 students to contribute to the restoration project.

The group arrived just before ten with teachers Amy, Jihan El-Labany and Rachel Peak, and students Angelo, Daniel, Dylan, Hasan, Issac, Jack, Joe, Jono, Joshua, Kaleb, Luan, Lucas, Matt, Reuben, Sam L., Sam v O., Seth, Tony and Wayne.

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We got acquainted over morning tea and we were really happy that three of the students who had come out with the Westlake Boys group in Year 9 last year, volunteered to come out again in Year 10.

Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and Thomas told the students about the work planned for the day and gave a safety briefing.

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The plan for the day was to do some walking track work at the top of the property.  Last year, the Westlake students helped with the initial trail blazing of the track by clearing vegetation and cutting steps.   When we build new tracks we wait a year to see how they weather over the wet winter season.  That way we can identify any potential drainage or erosion problems.

The track held up quite well over the winter but there are number of steps and sections that need to be boxed up and retained and that’s what we asked the Westlake Boys students to help with today.

Because the work area was at the top of the property we drove the students up in two groups.  Once we were all on site, Thomas took the group on a short walk along some finished sections of track to show the group the kinds of tasks they would be doing.

We then went to work.  The group broke into three teams working with a teacher in each group.  One team started boxing steps at the top of a long set of steps, the second team started at the bottom and worked up.

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The third team worked on benching and retaining a long, straight section of track.

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The work required a lot of planning and teamwork.  Each step and section of track is different because of the terrain, so each section presented different challenges.  It was great to see the students working together to come up with the best solutions.

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Because we don’t know how long the side boards need to be until each section is measured, we brought up the boards in long lengths.

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For step boxing, it is first necessary to dig out the sides of the step where the side boards will go.

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Then careful measuring is required to determine the dimensions of the boards.

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The board is then cut to size.

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The board is then nailed into place and secured with pegs.

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For the flat sections of track, the process is similar, but longer boards are used.  First, the track needs to be formed to make room for the side boards.

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The side boards are then secured in place with pegs.

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The students were very enthusiastic and everyone took turns doing different tasks and using different tools to get the track sorted.

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They were such a hard working group that we had to go down to get more timber!

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In just a couple of hours, the hard working students and teachers had accomplished an amazing amount of work and made major improvements in the track.

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Future teams over the summer will continue where the Westlake Boys students left off and continue to work on finishing the track.

The group took a leisurely walk back to the cottage for lunch and along the way Thomas pointed out some additional features of the property and described some of the issues associated with the restoration project such as pest and weed control.

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After lunch the students boarded the bus to bus to return to school. It was a fantastic day and the students made a great contribution.

Our many thanks to Amy, Jihan and Rachel for joining the students and working hard and helping and supervising in the field.

And a special thank you to Amy for her continued support of our efforts at CUE Haven and her assistance with organising the trip today.

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A big thank you to Year 10 students Jono, Reuben and Matt who returned this year to help again after having volunteered at CUE Haven in their Year 9 too!

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We also want to thank the students who volunteered at other environmental projects last year. It is great to see so many young people take an interest in protecting and enhancing our natural environment.

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A huge THANK YOU to all of the students for coming out today. If this was your first experience with an environmental project – we hope you had a good time and you will continue to be guardians of our precious natural resources.

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We really enjoyed working with you all and really appreciate your amazing contribution to CUE Haven.

It was great to see you all participating fully and working as a team and coming up with good ideas for making the track better.

We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we enjoyed meeting you and working with you all.  You have made a much valued and lasting contribution to CUE Haven and New Zealand’s natural heritage. The track you built today will be used and enjoyed by visitors for many years to come as they explore the growing native forest at CUE Haven.

We wish you all the best with your studies and future endeavours and we look forward to having you all back again to walk the completed track!

THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!

60- Westlake Boys High School logo

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