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Summerland Primary School—18 October 2017

October 19, 2017

Today science teacher Maria Galbraith from Summerland Primary School in west Auckland, brought the Year 4 class out for a day of learning and exploring.

The group included twenty-five students and teachers Maria and Jaimee.  Also joining us were parents Anita, Bevan, James, Justine, Nicola and Sylvia.

We started out with a quick morning tea and then Mahrukh gave the students some background on the CUE Haven project and spent some time talking about the impacts of farming and development on native plants and animals and waterways and the benefits of restoration planting

Mahrukh also described the activities planned for the day.  Students would learn about native New Zealand trees by spending some time potting up seedlings in the nursery.  Then they would learn about invertebrates and insects by doing a bug hunt in the field.  They would also take a long walk in the bush to learn more about native plants and animals and how to protect and nurture them

Because it was a large group, we broke the students into two teams so that each person had a chance to do each activity, with one group doing the walk while the other did potting and bug hunt.

Maria led the invertebrate study in the orchard and started out by explaining the activity and its objectives.

We had previously placed pitfall traps in the orchard so that the students would have some specimens to study and Maria explained how to use the traps.

The students broke into teams and each student had a magnifying glass and a plate and spoons to examine the insects they found.  We also had a supply of mirrors, so that they could examine their specimens from all angles.  Maria and the parents helped out each of the teams of budding scientists with their work.

In addition to the spiders, slaters and beetles they found in the traps, the students also explored the trees and rocks in the area and found snails, slugs and skinks.

And they used the magnifying glasses and mirrors for more detail investigating.

It was great to see how enthusiastic and creative the students were as they searched for new bugs to identify and study.

Mahrukh led the potting up session and gave a planting demo and safety briefing.  Today the students potted kohekohe and puriri seedlings.

Once again, Maria and the parents helped out and the students had a fun time transplanting the seedlings.

The seedlings that the students potted up will stay in the nursery for a year or two before they are ready to be planted in the field.  We hope the Summerland students will come back to do the planting!

Thomas led the groups for the nature walk.  Jaimee and the parents joined in and assisted with the activities.

During the walk, Thomas pointed out the different plantings so that the students could see how the forest was developing.  He showed them different kinds of trees and plants and explained the difference between wetland plants and other types of plants and explained how our plantings had helped water quality in both the CUE Haven stream and downstream in the Araparea River and the Kaipara Harbour.

The students also saw the area of the 2016 landslip and learnt of the importance of planting deep rooted trees on hill slopes to prevent erosion.

In the bush, the students got to see a weta hotel and learn a little bit about wetas.

Thomas described our weed and pest control activities and showed the students tools and traps we use to track and control pest animals which would harm the native plants and animals.

He then showed them how our pest control work had saved a puriri tree from possum browsing.  The tree has now become the home for kereru, who in turn are creating more forest by spreading seeds.

One of the things we want the students to learn at CUE Haven is the importance of slowing down and connecting with nature and appreciating the natural world.

At one point on the walk Thomas asked the students to stop, be still, close their eyes and focus on their breath for ten seconds.  He then asked them to do it again but this time to concentrate on what they were hearing, feeling and smelling and experience nature with their eyes closed.

The students then had to describe what they heard, felt. They heard birds, the stream flowing and the wind.  They smelled the hangihangi and the fresh forest scent.

On the walk back, the students engaged more with nature and looked out for the different colours that they saw in the forest.

Once all of the students had participated in each activity, it was time for a relaxing lunch and the final activity.

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week in NZ and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand (MHF) is sponsoring a program to raise awareness of the benefits of being in nature.  As part of the program, they are having a colouring contest for young students this month.

We asked the students to write /draw a picture of something they saw/experienced at CUE Haven on the contest entry form. They will colour their pictures in school and submit their entry to the MHF later this week.  Good luck to all the Summerland students!

This week is also Conservation week.  The Manuka trees are flowering at CUE Haven and Scrub Growers Nursery generously donated small manuka trees for each student to take back and grow in their garden at home and experience the satisfaction and benefits of planting native trees and to bring bees and birds to their backyards.

It was a great day of learning and exploring.  The students were enthusiastic and polite and we very much enjoyed the visit.  We want to thank teachers Maria and Jaimee, and all the parents for helping out today and helping to make the day so special.

Also many thanks to our generous supporters – Nestle NZ for providing the delicious hot chocolate drink for the students and the coffee for the adults;  Daltons, for providing the potting mix the students used to pot up their seedlings, and  Scrub Growers Nursery for the manuka trees the students took home to plant.

We especially want to thank the Mazda Foundation whose generous grant helped pay for the seedlings that the students potted up.

   And a huge thank you to the students!  We really enjoyed meeting you and working with you and hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did.  We do hope you will come back to CUE Haven with your families to explore more of the property and see how the forest is growing.

Thank You!!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gail Robertson permalink
    October 21, 2017 3:34 pm

    Wow!! Tom love the curls.
    What a wonderful experience for the young ones. From the expressions on their faces they had a great day.
    as always, love Gail.

  2. Jaimee permalink
    October 21, 2017 2:37 pm

    It was such an awesome day…thank you for having us and letting us experience CUE Haven. It is such a beautiful piece of paradise! Would love to come back and visit sometime.

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