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Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Gold Residential—1-5 October 2018

October 6, 2018

This week a great group of Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award (DoEHA) gold award participants made a lasting contribution to the CUE Haven landscape

The group arrived on Monday morning and included Domenic, Jaime, Jana-Marie, Jasmine, Joshua and Sarah.  Christine, who had previously done her residential at CUE Haven was the team leader.

Also joining us this week as the DoEHA on site leader was Heidi Van Duyn. And supervising and helping out too on most days was the DoEHA’s Outdoor Training and Development Director, Andy Woodhouse.

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 tasks.  Due to the size of the group, we split into two teams and each team worked on several different tasks.

Wetlands Bench Landscaping

There is an area in the wetlands where members of the community have planted several kahikatea trees as memorial plantings and the DoEHA team that had come in July built two benches for visitors to relax and spend time reflecting.

In July it was too wet to finish off the approaches to the benches and one team tackled the huge project of connecting the benches to the track and generally improving the whole area.

They headed out to the area to plan their work.

The first bench was built on a height and it required some steps up from the walking track.  This is what the group started with.

They measured out the area and figured out how many steps they needed and where to put them and went to work digging out the steps.

Once they were happy with the layout, they measured for the timber they would need.

And then went down to the shed to cut the timber they needed for the steps and side walls.

Back in the field, they installed the timber.

They then levelled the ground and collected some gravel to put on the steps and track to make it more comfortable and safer to walk on.

And then put on the finishing touches.

The last thing they did for that bench was to put some decorative tiles on the arms.

The bench area is now attractive, easy to access and will give visitors a fantastic vantage point.

The enthusiastic team then moved onto the next bench which presented a different set of challenges.

The curved bench was built at a high point on the track and the ground falls away from the outward side.  The team decided the best solution was to build a platform so that visitors could access the bench from both sides.

The job required a lot of digging and planning to form and retain the area.

Once they formed the area they cut the needed timber. Andy, Heidi and Thomas trained and supervised the students in the use of the power tools.

The team then took the timber up to the site.

And formed the platform and boxed it in.

The team decided that the old dead hawthorn trees were blocking too much of the view so they cut some of them away.

And made a great window!

The final result is a vast improvement and the group has turned this area into an attractive and comfortable space for visitors.

They even added some decorative touches with some tiles.

What a fantastic transformation!

Well done, team.

Additionally, this team also did a variety of maintenance tasks during the week.

They pruned back some overgrown bush –

Walked the boundary fence line and trimmed back overhanging vegetation—

–and marked out a new track to connect the area where we will be building the viewing platform to the wetlands area nearby.

Walking Track Upgrades

Some of the walking tracks at CUE Haven have seen a lot of wear and tear and after the wet winter weather there are a number of areas that could be improved.  Heidi’s team worked on a number of different track sections and each presented a different set of challenges.

The first challenge was to improve the retaining boards along a section of steep steps leading down to the stream where there had been a lot of erosion.  We took a look at the area to decide on the best approach.

The team went to work, digging out the steps, squaring them off and installing taller side boards to control erosion.

They also decorated the side boards with some colourful tiles.

Once all the new boards were in place, they covered the track with a layer of gravel to improve safety.

It was a real challenge carrying the heavy buckets from the nearest road to the track site.

And the result is a vast improvement in the appearance and function of the steps.

The team also decided that the area at the top of the steps was a nice place for a bench.

They planned out the bench and cut the timber in the shed.

And painted up the legs–

And also created a unique decorative panel for the bench.

Back in the field, they measured the site and dug the holes for the bench legs.

It was another challenge carrying up the concrete and water to secure the bench in place.

The team assembled the bench on site to make sure everything fit together properly.

And the end result is worth all their hard work.

A short distance away from the steps the team worked on, there was a section of track that runs along the stream.  There has been some erosion and the edge of the track was wearing away.

The team shored up the track, put in some retaining boards and built a decorative railing.

The result is a much improved track and also a very interesting feature. Future DoEHA teams will extend the retaining wall and railing along this section of the track.

The team found a couple of other areas that needed improvement.  One section of a track through thick bush has always been soggy and they built a step to make the track less slippery.

The last task the team tackled was to improve the access path to what we call the fantail chair.  The chair was built by a previous DoEHA team and provides great views of the Kaipara Harbour.  The back of the chair resembles the spread tail of a fantail.  The existing track was showing lots of wear and tear.

The team planned their work and dug out the old retaining boards and installed new boards.

It was already a major improvement, but the team went on to create a truly innovative addition to the track.  They decided to build a fantail into the track.  They cut out a head and made a tail and wings from timber.

Now there is really a fantail by the fantail chair!

The teams accomplished a lot but the week wasn’t all hard work.  There was lots of laughter and fun too.

They celebrated Jana-Marie’s birthday with apple pies and ice cream.

And also planted celebration trees for the occasion.

And they each made a memento picture frame.

It was a productive and fun week and we thoroughly enjoyed working with the group and really appreciate the creativity and enthusiasm they brought to every task.

In addition to their hard work, they also spent a lot of time getting to know each other, exploring the property and relaxing and sharing lots of laughs.

We’d like to thank Andy for taking time out of his busy schedule to assist with the residential and make it a fun and productive week.  Andy, we really appreciate your help this week and your continued support of our efforts at CUE Haven.

Our many thanks to Heidi for taking the time to help out.  Heidi, your skills, knowledge and guidance were a great help and much appreciated.  We are glad to have you on the CUE Haven team and look forward to seeing you again.

And a big thank you to Christine for serving as team leader and doing a great job of keeping things moving and contributing to the success of the residential week.

And of course, a huge THANK YOU to all the hard-working participants.  We really enjoyed meeting you and working with you.  It was great to see a group of young adults who didn’t know each other on Monday, so quickly come together to work as a team and also become good friends. And laugh so much!!

We were very impressed with your enthusiasm, motivation and hard work and we hope you enjoyed the week as much as we did.   You have all made a major contribution and your efforts will be appreciated by the many visitors and volunteers at CUE Haven over the years.

We wish you all the best in your studies and future endeavours and look forward to having you back at CUE Haven again – as team leaders and for casual visits.

Thanks again!!


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