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Avondale Intermediate School—24 May 2017

May 25, 2017

Today for the second year in a row, students from Avondale Intermediate School in Auckland came to CUE Haven for a Trees For Survival Planting day.  The students planted trees they had grown in their nursery at school.

We really enjoy hosting the Avondale Intermediate students and we were particularly happy because some of the students who had come out with teacher Doug Caldwell last year joined in again!  It was great to see familiar faces and also meeting new students and teachers.

The group included forty-five students along with parents Nargis, Nicole, Paul and Rebecca, and teachers Doug, Kate Paris and Shani-Sophie Evuort.

The group arrived late because of bus problems, so we had a quick morning tea – (our thanks to Nestle for providing the delicious hot chocolate drinks for the students).  We then gave the students an overview of the plan for the day.

The plan was for the students to plant the trees they had grown in their school nursery as part of the Auckland Council sponsored Trees for Survival program. The students were planting in the wetland and to give them a real appreciation of the importance of wetland planting, we had also scheduled a Waicare program for the day.

Gail Allende of Trees for Survival was on site to manage the planting activity and had laid out the plants for the students.  Hazel and Libby, Auckland Council’s Sustainable Schools environmental educators joined us to give the students a study session on water quality and macroinvertebrates.

The students split into their respective classes and the plan was that one class would plant while the other attended the Waicare session, and then swap activities.

Gail took the students on the short walk out to the planting site.  She pointed out the area that had been affected by the landslip last August and explained how planting can help stabilize slopes and water courses.

She then gave a safety briefing and a planting demo.

The students went to work!

The main planting area was dry but as the students made progress and moved further into the wetlands there were also some very muddy spots!

When we finished planting, the hard working students picked up the empty plant bags for recycling and helped clean the spades too.

For the Waicare session Hazel and Libby had earlier collected some samples from the stream further up the property which the students would be testing.

The presentation started with an overview of water quality issues and why we should be concerned about waterways.  Hazel and Libby explained that the students would be doing three experiments—testing water quality for oxygen, pH and phosphates and nitratres, testing clarity of the water to assess silt levels and lastly examining water samples to identify macroinvertebrates—the tiny animals that live in streams.  The amount and diversity of animal life is an indicator of the health of the waterway.

The students then broke into smaller groups so that each person had a chance to do all of the experiments.  Hazel and Libby showed the students the different tests and supervised and assisted the work of the budding scientists.

The water quality tests involved using different solutions and test strips.

Water clarity testing involved looking through a tube filled with water and measuring the distance light can penetrate.  It is a test that requires teamwork.

Even the bus driver joined in!

We were happy to hear that the clarity of the stream water was better than similar readings in previous years—a sign that our plantings are helping to improve water quality.

The most complex task involved studying the aquatic vegetation in the water samples and identifying the macroinvertebrates.  Hazel and Libby provided the students with charts to help them with the identification process and some lab sheets where they could record their findings.

The students found a variety of macroinvertebrates including a flat mayfly which is very sensitive to water quality and is not found in polluted streams. Yeah!

Once both groups had done their planting and Waicare sessions, it was time to clean up and have lunch and head back to town.

It was a fun day of planting and learning and the Avondale Intermediate students were wonderful guests and we have a lot of people to thank.

Gail, as always, the planting day went very well thanks to your organisation and support before and on the day, and we really appreciate all your help.  We realized that this is the tenth year in a row that you have been helping us with our TFS plantings—in fact your demo tree in 2008 was very first tree planted as part of our restoration project!

Hazel and Libby, your waicare presentation was very educational and also thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you so much for your continued support and we very much look forward to having you back for more waicare sessions with other school groups.

We also want to thank Auckland Council for their continued support of our efforts to make CUE Haven a space for outdoor environmental learning and for sponsoring TFS and Waicare which are such great environmental education programmes for the students.

A huge thank you to Doug, Kate, Nargis, Nicole, Paul, Shani and Rebecca for all their help to make today a special day for the students.

And most of all, a very BIG THANK YOU to all the students. We really enjoyed meeting all of you and working with you.  We were very impressed with how polite and hardworking you all were and also how enthusiastic and keen you were to learn new things.

Thank you for not only growing the lovely trees in your school nursery, but for also coming out to plant them. You have made a significant contribution to the CUE Haven restoration project, our environment and our community.

Since CUE Haven will be gifted to the wider community to use and enjoy as a native forest reserve, and you should all be very proud of your efforts and contribution as you have helped in the creation of a native nature reserve which the community will enjoy for generations.  Thank you! Thank you!

We wish you the best of luck with your studies and we do hope you will come back and see us (and your trees) again soon!

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