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Wainui School Year 3 Students—13 November 2017

November 15, 2017

Today a great group of Year 3 students from Wainui School came to CUE Haven for a day of learning and exploring.

The group of thirty seven students were accompanied by teachers Pam Millar and Maddy Taylor and parents – Janet, Kirsty, Kylie, Lexie, Morgan, Sandy, Tanya and Vanessa.  They arrived shortly after nine-thirty and we started with a quick morning tea and then a short introduction to the CUE Haven project.

The plan for the day was for the students to do a variety of activities which would help them learn about nature and how they can help protect it.  Because of the size of the group, for the morning sessions we split the group into two.  One group went on a nature walk to explore the CUE Haven bush while the other group worked potting up seedlings in the nursery and doing a field study session on invertebrates. The students later swapped activities so that all students participated in every activity.

In the afternoon the combined group did an activity to learn about conserving natural resources and an exercise for the students to think about how they might help protect the natural environment.

Nature Walk

Thomas took half the group of adults and students for an hour long walk in the bush.  Before starting out, he gave a safety briefing and talked a little bit about what they 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.  He also explained how our plantings had helped water quality in both the CUE Haven stream and downstream in the Araparera River and the Kaipara Harbour.

The group had a chance to see the area where a landslip occurred during a torrential rain storm in 2016.  Thomas explained how the slip had occurred, and the remedial planting we were doing in the area to stabilize the hill slope.

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

We walked along the stream and Thomas showed the students where we had found Banded Kokopu and koura living.

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 to experience nature with their eyes closed.

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

Thomas encouraged the students to continue to walk leisurely and observe nature on the rest of the walk.  Soon, the students spotted something unusual in the stream.  At first we thought it was a weta that had fallen into the water.  We fished it out.

And it turned out to be a huhu beetle.

We took a good look at it before returning it to the bush well away from the stream. Thanks to the students observing nature more closely they were able to save the huhu bettle from drowning. Good job!

We then continued on the walk and this time, the students were asked to take note of the different colours, other than brown and green, they observed in the bush.

At the end of the track, the students got a chance to describe the things they had seen.  Thomas also pointed out the Araparera River and Kaipara Harbour so the students could see the connection between the CUE Haven waterways and the harbour and better appreciate how improving water quality at CUE Haven was helping the harbour.

We headed back to the walking track down to a big puriri tree that our pest control work had saved from possum browsing.

The puriri has now become a home for kereru and a lot of karaka are growing up under the tree after the kereru have dropped seeds.  The students got a chance to see how everything in nature is interconnected—by saving the tree, we attracted birds who are in turn creating more forest by spreading seeds.

Thomas 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.

The students got a chance to interpret some prints that animals had left on the tracking tunnel cards we had collected in the field.

We finished up with a walk through the wetlands and then headed back to the nursery.

Potting seedlings in nursery

While one group was out walking, the other joined Mahrukh in the nursery where they potted up kohekohe, miro, puriri, rimu and taraire seedlings into bigger pots.

Mahrukh gave a potting demo and safety briefing and the students went to work.  They worked in teams and, assisted by the parents and teachers, very quickly potted up a lot of seedlings.

It didn’t take long to finish potting up a lot of plants!

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.

We would like to thank the Mazda Foundation for a generous grant which helped us purchase the seedlings for the students to pot up.  And thank you, too, to Daltons NZ for continuing to support CUE Haven and generously donating the potting mix.

When the planting was finished, it was time for the students to switch from gardeners to budding scientists.  Each student received a magnifying glass and they were asked to inspect and compare the structures of the leaves to their skin to see similarities and differences.

The students noted the fine veins and hair and that led to a good discussion on how all living things – plants and humans, are all connected and need to be looked after.

Bug Hunt

The students then moved out to the orchard to do some study of insects and invertebrates.  We had previously placed pitfall traps in the orchard so that the students would have some specimens to study.  Mahrukh explained how to use the traps and the students broke into groups.  Assisted by an adult, they examined the creatures they found in the traps and used magnifying glasses and mirrors so that they could study the creatures from all angles.  Using interpretive charts, they identified as many of the specimens as they could.

They also explored the area to see how many of their own specimens they could find.  By digging in the leaf litter under the trees they found an amazing variety of worms and insects.

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.

After both groups had done the walk and the bug hunt it was time for lunch.  The students enjoyed hot chocolate generously provided by Nestle NZ. Thanks Nestle!

Sustainable Living

After lunch, the entire group did an interesting game about resource depletion to help them better appreciate how to conserve our planet’s resources. The game generated a lot of interesting discussion.

The students broke into groups of five and each group was assisted by a parent or teacher.  Each group had a bowl full of small stones and an empty bowl.  The students were told that they were to take turns moving the stones from one bowl to the other.

Mahrukh counted time as the students worked on moving the stones beginning with the students using only their little fingers and then the little fork, followed by using the teaspoon and tablespoon.

They were told to raise their hands as soon as they emptied the bowl.

In almost all cases, the student with the tablespoon emptied the bowl and the last person had no stones to remove.

Mahrukh then asked the students to imagine that the stones represented the Earth’s natural resources and their little fingers, forks and spoons represented the technical progress that has enabled humans to use resources more rapidly over the ages. The students who didn’t get a chance to move any stones were asked how they felt.

Mahrukh then discussed how excessive use of resources would mean that there could be none left for future generations. The students then spent some time in their groups discussing different ways to conserve resources with the adults facilitating the discussion.

One group even experimented with different ways to extract and replenish the stones to ensure that future generations could still have their fair share.

The last activity was a short exercise on kaitiakitangi (guardianship).  The students were asked to think about all of the things they had seen and done during the day and to think about how CUE Haven and its trees and animals should be protected and guarded.

Each student was asked to visualize a kaitiaki (guardian) and to draw it.

Once the drawings were finished, some of the students presented their pictures and their very thoughtful concepts of kaitiakitanga to the whole group.  The students will follow up on this activity in their classes next week.

Before they left, each student was given a small manuka tree to take home to plant and nurture.  And a big thank you to Scrub Growers Ltd for generously donating these trees.

It was a great day of learning and exploring and we want to thank teachers Pam and Maddy, and all the parents for helping out today and helping to make the day so special.

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 were very impressed with how enthusiastic, polite and engaged were in all the activities.  Thank you for potting up the seedlings.  We hope you will come back to CUE Haven with your families to explore more of the property and see how the forest is growing.

Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

 

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