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Wainui School Year 4 Students—14 November 2017

November 15, 2017

Today a great group of Year 4 students from Wainui School came to CUE Haven for a day of learning and exploring.  Most of the students had been out this time last year. It was good seeing them again and we were keen to show them how much had changed since their last visit.

The group of thirty five students were accompanied by teachers Alison Berghan and Wendy Taylor and parents Bron, Clare, Deborah and Nikki.  They arrived shortly after nine-thirty and we started with a quick morning tea, followed by a short update and the planned activities for the day.

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.

While one group went on a nature walk to explore the CUE Haven bush, 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 and learned about conserving natural resources and living sustainably.

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.  He showed them the neighbour’s paddock to give the students an idea of how CUE Haven looked ten years ago and then showed them the 2008 and 2015 plantings so that they could compare the way the trees had grown up.

The group had a chance to again see the area where a landslip occurred during a torrential rain storm in August 2016 and Thomas showed them the remedial planting we were now doing in the area to stabilize the hill slope.

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 reminded the students about the importance of riparian planting and how the tree plantings had helped water quality in both the CUE Haven stream and downstream in the Araparera River and the Kaipara Harbour.

We walked along the stream where because of the improved water quality we now have banded kokopu and koura living.

The students explored different parts of the bush as we walked along.  In the bush, the students got to see a weta hotel and learn a little bit about wetas.

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 the halfway 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 sound of water, leaves rustling in the wind.  They smelled the fresh forest scent and felt the breeze.  Students also felt calm and happy.

Thomas encouraged the students to continue to walk leisurely and focus on the different colours on a particular section of the track.

At the end of that track, the students talked about the colours they had seen. At that junction on the track, Thomas also showed them the Kaipara Harbour and the Araparera River 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.

The group then headed down to the big puriri tree that our pest control efforts had saved from possum browsing.   That tree has 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 reminded the students of the challenges that native New Zealand plants and animals faced because of introduced pest plants and animals.  He demonstrated the tracking tunnels we use to monitor pest populations and the students got a chance to interpret some prints that animals had left on the tracking tunnel cards we had collected in the field.

Thomas also showed the students the traps we use to control pests.  Last year when the students had visited a stoat had been freshly caught in one of the DoC 200 traps, but this year there was no such excitement.

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 and 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.

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.

Auckland Council provided us with a number of educational posters and we hung one about food waste in the nursery.  The students noticed it and agreed to be careful about food waste at home.

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.

The students got very creative in finding places to look for bugs.  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 then there were the macroinvertebrates to be discovered in the old water trough.

After both groups had done the walk and the bug hunt, it was time for lunch.  However the students were keen to listen to some native bird calls first and Mahrukh got the students to identify some of the bird calls they would have heard on their walk in the bush.

Although the native bird population at CUE Haven has increased significantly since we started restoring CUE Haven, we are hopeful that sometime in the future all the native birds will be thriving here.

Sustainable Living

Just after lunch a sudden heavy rain shower drove us into the garage to keep dry and we all huddled up and continued out next activity indoors.

The activity was about 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.  Mahrukh gave the students a description of the activity.

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.

In almost all cases, the student with the tablespoon emptied the bowl and the last person in the circle 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. Also the students who did get a chance to do the activity, were asked how they would feel if they were left with nothing. 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.

The students will be discussing this exercise and their ideas further in class next week.

Students also given a small lolly each and asked to hold on to it overnight. If they brought it back to school the next day they would get an additional lolly from their teacher. The aim of this activity (based on the famous Stanford Marshmallow experiment) is to teach the benefits of delaying gratification.

Before they left, each student was given a small manuka tree as a gift. The students will be planting these trees in their school and creating a special grove for their class.  What a lovely legacy!!   A big thank you to Scrub Growers Ltd for generously donating these trees.

 It was a great day of learning and exploring.

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.  And thank you to Nestle NZ for providing the yummy hot chocolate which the students so enjoyed.

Many thanks to teachers Alison and Wendy and all the parents for helping out today and helping to make the day so special.

And most of all, a BIG thank you to the students!  We so enjoyed having you visit us again at CUE Haven and your enthusiasm and interest in nature.  We also really appreciate your hard work in the nursery and we hope you had an enjoyable day.  The trees you potted up will someday be huge forest giants in the CUE Haven forest.

We look forward to you all coming back and participating in more activities and seeing the growing native forest at CUE Haven.

Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

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