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Ahuroa School—4 April 2019

April 6, 2019

Ahuroa School is the closest school to CUE Haven and we were delighted when teacher Kevin Sutherland approached us about bringing the entire school out for a day of learning and exploring at CUE Haven.  The plan was to have the year 5 – 8 students come out first thing in the morning and then for the year 1 – 4 students to come out after lunch.

As we were welcoming our local school for the first time to CUE Haven, we felt it appropriate to welcome them with a powhiri. The powhiri is rich in tradition and protocol—it goes back to the time when groups of strangers would meet and exchanged formal greetings and challenges to explain who they are and that their intentions are peaceful.

We requested our friends and neighbours from Te Aroha Pa marae, whaea Rita and matua Lyall, and also friends kuia Kathy, whaea Janie and wahine Tyla from nearby Puatahi marae to join Thomas and Mahrukh to represent the CUE Haven whanau as tangata whenua and welcome the manuhiri –  teachers and parents  Kathryn, Kevin, Kym and Melody, and twenty-seven students.

The students arrived just after nine and whaea Rita welcomed them with a karanga. 

Once the group were welcomed, whaea Rita invited the mahuhiri for the hariru and hongi. This is a symbol of love and peace because at creation, the breath of life was breathed into the nose.

Whaea Rita then said a welcoming prayer and matua Lyall spoke for the tangata whenua and teacher Kevin for the manuhiri.  These were speeches of introduction so that each group got to know each other.

Between the speeches, the groups sang lovely waiata.

And whaea Rita ended the ceremony with another short prayer and invited the manuhiri to have some snacks.

After the snacks, Mahrukh gave the students a short talk about CUE Haven and the history of the restoration project.

The plan for the day was for the students to do a variety of activities which would help them learn about kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of our people and our planet.

Kaitiakitanga Exercise

For the first activity, the students broke into groups of five or six 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 a teaspoon, followed by using a fork, a tablespoon and hands.

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.

Kuia Kathy gave the students a short talk about kaitiakitanga and reminded the students of the importance of taking care of and protecting our natural resources, and told the groups that we all had a responsibility to be kaitiaki (guardians) of our planet.

The students then spent some time in their groups discussing different ways to conserve our planet’s natural resources. Each group had an adult who facilitated the discussion.

Pest Control

In connection with the kaitiakitanga session, we told the group a little bit about what we are doing at CUE Haven to protect the birds and trees from introduced pests.  Many of the students are already doing pest control at school and at home and we had a discussion about various pests and the best way to control them.

Thomas described and demonstrated some of the tools and traps we use.  He showed them a tracking tunnel and explained how we use it to determine the type and number of pests we have.

He explained how we use Timms traps for possums.

And the students got a demo of how a Doc 200 trap works.

For the remaining activities, we split the students in two groups.  One group went on a nature walk to explore the CUE Haven bush while the other group had a session on native birds and trees and bees.  The students later swapped activities so that all students participated in every activity.

Nature Walk

Thomas took half the group of adults and students for 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.

He explained the difference between wetland and non-wetland plantings and 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.

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.

Bees and Native Birds

While one group was out walking, the other joined Mahrukh in the nursery for a discussion of bees and native birds.

The students are learning about the importance of bees to the environment and because we have beehives at CUE Haven, Kevin had requested we talk a bit about bee keeping.

Mahrukh gave the students a talk about bees, describing their social organization, the importance of pollination and the risks that human activity creates for bee populations and the different aspects of bee keeping.

We’d like to thank beekeeper, Richard from Waitoki Apiaries, who brought over empty bee hives and combs, some bees wax and the honey extractor, where the combs are spun to remove the honey, so we were able to show these to the students.

Mahrukh also gave the students a short talk about native birds and their calls.

When everyone had done all of the activities, it was time to head back to school for lunch.

Each student was given a picture of a little bee to take home with them as a momento of their first visit to CUE Haven. We hope it will be a reminder that human activities are causing bees to become endangered and so we need to BE mindful of our activities and strive to BE kaitiaki of our planet.

The year 1 – 4 students arrived shortly before the year 5 – 8 students left at 1 pm.   The group of 33 students was accompanied by teachers and parents Aleesha, Ayla, Becky, Linden, Lisa, Nicky and Reneé.

We welcomed the students and Mahrukh gave them a short talk about CUE Haven.

This group of young students were scheduled to stay at CUE Haven for just an hour and we had limited time for activities.

Mahrukh talked about bees and demonstrated the beekeeping equipment.

The students got to see and touch honeycombs and beeswax.

Thomas gave a short presentation on pest control and demonstrated how the traps work.

We then took the group for a short walk in the wetlands so the students could see some of the property and learn a little bit about wetland plants.  In addition to fantails and tui, they also saw a lot of the native brown skinks.

After the walk it was time to say goodbye so the students could get back to school.

It was a great day of learning and exploring and we want to thank Kevin for organizing the day.

Our heartfelt thanks to kuia Kathy, matua Lyall and whaea Rita and Janie and whahine Tyla for taking time today and joining us for a very special welcome ceremony. And to kuia Kathy for her inspiring words to all of us to take charge and become kaitiaki of our people and planet.

Our thanks to all of the teachers and parents who came along to help out and make the day so special.

And a huge thank you to the students for participating in all the activities!  We really enjoyed meeting you and hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did.  We hope you will come back to CUE Haven for more educational visits and also 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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