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Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Residential—15 – 19 January 2018

January 20, 2018

The new year got off to a good start at CUE Haven as our volunteer season started with the 23rd Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award gold residential.

The group arrived on Monday morning and included Amber, Amelia, Andy, Derica, Donovan, Freda, Jessica, Nicholas, Rahil, Sandani and Yagmur.  Amber, who had done her residential at CUE Haven last year was back as the student team leader for the week.

Also joining us for the week was Rangipai Hill-Dobson, the DoEHA CUE Haven residential leader and Andy Woodhouse, DoEHA National Training and Development Director who was also on site helping out for most of the week.

We started off with morning tea and introductions.  Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and Thomas gave a description of the work planned for the week, outlined expectations and gave a safety briefing.

The plan for the week was to do a variety of maintenance tasks and also build a bridge in the wetlands to connect two sections of walking track.  The main activity was building the bridge and that work took all week while the other tasks were fit in around the bridge work.

Walking Track Maintenance

This summer has been a great growing season so far, and that’s good news.  But it also means that weeds and trees are growing onto the walking tracks and it’s an ongoing job to trim the vegetation back so that it doesn’t interfere with visitors using the tracks.  Throughout the week various teams did some track trimming at various places around the property using a variety of tools.

Thanks to the group’s efforts, the walking tracks are a little easier to negotiate!

Other Track Work

In addition to pruning, the walking tracks require constant maintenance due to wear and tear, ground movement and erosion.  We asked the team to fix up a number of different track sections that were subject to erosion.

It was challenging work because we had to move from one section of the track to another and study each situation to come up with the best solution to the problem.  Generally the team dealt with erosion problems which could be fixed by installing side retaining boards.

This required digging out the sides of the track, measuring and cutting the boards and nailing them in place.

The project required lots of team work and the group also got a chance to develop some new skills.

The most challenging job the group tackled was to build up and retain a sharp corner of the track which had been eroding.  They widened and reformed the track and installed a very nice looking wall to help guide visitors along the path.

The result is a big improvement in the track appearance and safety.

Wairua Bridge Project

The big project for the week was to construct a bridge across a section of the wetlands to join up two older walking tracks.  We have been planting several memorial kahikatea trees in the area and have put in the tracks so that people can visit the trees they’ve planted and enjoy the wetlands.

Up until now, however, there was no easy way to cross from one track to the other because the area is very wet even in summer and impassable in winter when the stream is flowing rapidly.

We came up with a simple bridge design, but decided to embellish the design with some decorative side posts.  The timber had been ordered in advance and the first task was to load it onto the ute to deliver it to the work site.

We drove as close as we could to the bridge site and then the timber had to be carried the rest of the way.

The frame of the bridge was laid out to determine where the foundation posts would be placed.

Old fence posts were used as foundation posts.  They were anchored in the ground and concreted in place to ensure that the bridge would be stable.  The students were trained and supervised in the use of the post hole digger and the team took turns digging the twelve holes for the foundation posts.

The heavy bags of cement were then carried down to the site.

And each post was cemented in place, with lots of checking to make sure everything was straight.

The cement was allowed to harden up overnight before the frame was attached.

The next day the frame was attached to the posts.  This required lots of drilling to make the holes for the bolts.

The bolts were then positioned and tightened up.

Once the long boards were installed, accurate measurements were taken to cut the end boards of the frame as well as the nogs to stabilize the frame.

The top boards were test fitted to make sure everything was even.

And then the nogs and end boards were attached to the frame before the top boards were nailed in.

Once all the top boards were nailed in place, the bridge got a coat of paint.

The plan was to attach decorative rails to the sides of the bridge, and each of the top boards had to be exactly even.  This required cutting off any excess timber on the edge.

After the paint had dried, the team attached wire mesh on the top boards to provide for extra traction and make it safer for visitors to walk on in wet weather.

While the bridge was being built in the field, another team worked on planning the design for the decorative side rails.  They laid out the boards and planned how they would be cut off and angled.

The boards were then cut to the desired lengths.

And then again laid out to make sure everything was even.

Because the side rails were going to be angled away from the bridge, each one needed to be cut at just the right angle and the creative team decided to build a mini bridge in the nursery using scrap wood to test that the angle was just right.

Donovan came up with the idea for a jig that would keep each rail at the correct angle for cutting.

Once each of the rails was cut, they were painted and pilot holes for the screws were drilled.

Each rail had been numbered so the team would know where to install it, and the rails were taken out to the bridge site.

The challenge would be to get the spacing just right and again Donovan developed a jig to guide the installers.

At the bridge site, each rail was laid in position and double checked.

Starting in the middle, each rail was screwed into position and double checked for proper alignment.

And very quickly, the design started to take shape.

The rails were given a final touch up coat of paint.

The bridge is an amazing effort and a fantastic addition to the CUE Haven landscape.  In addition to being interesting, it will provide visitors with new options for exploring the property.

Before and after view of the area:

The team should be very proud of their efforts!

Other tasks

There is always a lot to do at CUE Haven and the group also helped out with a few smaller jobs.

The sign by the front gate had developed a lean so we dug it out and reinstalled it with new cement.

We wanted to reposition a hot wire on the boundary fence and the team installed new insulators and we flipped the wire over and reconnected it.  This will provide additional protection from the neighbour’s cows.

Lastly, the nursery water tank was getting overgrown by vegetation and we asked the team to clear it away to prevent roots from damaging the irrigation system.

But it wasn’t all hard work!

The group took time to meet some of the other CUE Haven inhabitants, such as these stick insects.

Nicholas showed the team how to do the locked cross puzzle in record time.

And we celebrated Andy’s birthday with a cake which the team baked.

In spite of the weather varying from hot and humid to rain, the team accomplished an amazing amount of work on this residential.

A big thank you to Andy for being able to spend time on site and working with the students and helping to keep projects moving. Andy, we really appreciate your enthusiasm and continued  support.

Our many thanks to Rangipai for joining us, helping out and adding much in the way of knowledge and guidance.  Pai, we look forward to having you on the CUE Haven team to help manage future residentials.

And most of all, a big thank you to the hard working team.  We really enjoyed meeting you and working with you and very much appreciate your many valued contributions to CUE Haven.  It is much appreciated.

We hope you will come back to visit with your families and friends and we wish you good luck with your studies and much happiness and success in the future.

Thanks again!!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gail Robertson permalink
    January 21, 2018 1:35 pm

    Tom & Mahrukh, so pleased to see Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award back at Cue Haven. Both the award and the venue are so special and belong together. Well done everyone,

  2. January 20, 2018 3:05 pm

    Well done team, a great effort..

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