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Westlake Boys High School—6 December 2017

December 7, 2017

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 Year 9 and 10 students are given the opportunity to work on community projects, and for the third year in a row, CUE Haven has been one of the venues the students can choose from.  Today, twenty-one students selected CUE Haven for their activity day and spent the day helping us with a variety of tasks.  Also joining us for the day were students Yazdy and Richard who regularly help out and have become part of the CUE Haven team.

The group arrived just after ten and included teachers John Foden, Penny Law and Sean McWilliams and students Arsh, Austin, Bitchan, Bowen, Cam, Cole, Ewen, Fergus, Finn, Greg, Henry, Jackson, JC, Joel, Lachlan, Louis, Matthias, Nick, Tim and Vince.

We got acquainted over morning tea and 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.

Normally at this time of year, our highest priority is walking track maintenance work – this includes trimming back overhanging vegetation along the track and upgrading and fixing the actual tracks.  This year we had an unusually warm and wet spring and that has meant that the CUE Haven forest is growing really well.  But it also means that weeds are doing equally well.  As a result, today we spent time both working on track remediation and track maintenance.

We broke the group into three groups of seven students plus one teacher.  One group went with Yazdy and worked clearing the wetlands boardwalk, the second joined Richard to clear a track at the top of the property and the third worked with Thomas fixing up a section of the gully walking track.

Track Fix Up

This summer we have been working to widen and improve the CUE Haven track system and we asked the students to work on a section of track where we have also installed a bench.  The plan was to widen the track, install a small retaining wall to prevent erosion and to build a set of steps to make it easier to visitors to access the bench.

Thomas took Sean and the students to the work area and the team spent some time thinking about the best way to approach the challenge.

They figured out where they wanted to put the steps and how to route the track and took some measurements.

They then went to work digging out the track and the area for the steps.

In the meantime, other team members brought down the timber for the job.

After they widened the track, they determined the best location for the retaining boards.

The boards were then cut to size

And secured in place with pegs and nails.

The improved track section was then levelled and smoothed.

The next challenge was to build the steps up to the bench. The job required a lot of planning and measuring.

The risers were test fitted before being securely installed.

The alignment of each step was carefully checked.

The last task was to put side walls on the steps to prevent erosion.

When we were finished the team collected all the gear and headed back to the cottage for lunch

The track section and steps are a great improvement and the group should be very proud of their efforts.

Track Maintenance

Richard’s team with teacher Penny, were driven up to the top and they went to work with loppers, shears and secateurs.

We just built this section of track last summer and it crisscrosses the 2016 planting area.  The track doesn’t get a lot of traffic yet and tall weeds have grown up and fallen onto the track and we requested the team to clear the track to make it safe for visitors.

The warm spring has turned into a hot pre-summer and the team had to cope with near record temperatures.

At least they had nice views and a slight breeze.

Yes, there is a walking track in there!

And despite having just one functional arm, this enthusiastic student worked just as hard as the others.

In spite of the heat and the heavy weeds, the team worked hard and covered an amazing amount of territory and managed to clear the entire track section.

Meanwhile, Yazdy’s team with teacher John, worked in the wetlands.

We can’t spray weeds in the wetlands so anything over growing onto the boardwalk needs to be trimmed away by hand.

The wetlands group had no views, no breeze and a lot higher humidity to contend with.  But in no time the hard working team got the entire boardwalk looking great.

They also nailed down any loose wire mesh.

The team also did some weeding in the orchard and the landscaped areas by the cottage.

All the groups then met back at the cottage for a leisurely lunch to cap off a very productive day.

We’d like to say a special thank you to Richard and Yazdy for once again coming out to help. We really appreciate your help and continued support.

Also our thanks to John for organizing the day and many thanks to John, Penny and Sean for supervising the teams and working just as hard along with the students.

And a BIG THANK YOU all the hard working students.  In spite of the heat and difficult conditions you did a great job and made a very valuable contribution to the CUE Haven project.  We enjoyed meeting and working with you and we hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did.

We wish you all the best with your studies and we look forward to having you all back again to explore more of CUE Haven.



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