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Westlake Boys High School—4 & 5 June 2019

June 5, 2019

Westlake Boys High School on Auckland’s North Shore is one of New Zealand’s largest schools and for the past few years, Westlake Boys students have been visiting CUE Haven both to help out with our restoration project and to supplement their classroom work with field studies.

Again this year, Year 11 geography students are studying the Kaipara Harbour and how human activity affects it.  To help the students gain a better appreciation of the extent of the harbour and the activities taking place in the area, the head of the geography department, Andrew Clarke, organized a field trip to the Kaipara for the students.

The visit was scheduled over two days with two classes attending one day and the other two coming the following day.  Each day the classes took turns visiting two venues–our neighbours at Mataia and CUE Haven.  The students also did a boat cruise on the Kaipara.  The visit was an opportunity for the students to see first hand how land use directly affects the Harbour which results in seabed sedimentation and loss of habitat for fish, and learn about the tradeoffs involved in improving water quality.

Over the two days we had a total of 145 students accompanied by teachers Amy, Andrew, Brad, Claire, Elliot and Hannah.

The weather on the first day was perfect, but on day two, the students had to contend with rain and high winds.  As a result we shortened the walk on the second day.

Mataia, is a very large family owned beef and sheep farm and also a site for ecotourism with protected native bush where Northland brown kiwi habitat.  The students had the opportunity here to learn about sustainable farming practices, riparian planting and native bush protection.

At CUE Haven we talked about and showed the students the restoration work and the effects of the restoration over the years.

Mahrukh started each session with some background information on CUE Haven and talked briefly about how the planting had affected water quality, erosion and land stability.  On the first day we could give the talk outside but had to move inside on the second day.

Thomas gave a safety briefing and took the students for a walk around the property to show them some specific examples of how the restoration project had affected the land and how it was affecting our waterways and ultimately the Kaipara Harbour.

The students saw some of the oldest and newest plantings and were able to compare them to the neighbours’ paddocks which are still being grazed.

Thomas explained that changing land use alters the way water behaves, mainly by affecting the direction and speed of flow.  He pointed out that removing the forest canopy increases the peak flow of water and how the water flow from the open paddocks on the neighbouring properties had contributed to a land slip at CUE Haven.

The students walked to the area where the slip occurred in 2016 so the students could see the cause and effect of the slip and how remedial plantings were now helping to stabilize the land.

The students then had a look at where the CUE Haven stream flows into the wetlands and learned about how planting had affected the water flows from the top of the property, making the stream less flood prone and also how the health of the wetlands had improved due to less flooding and erosion.

As they explored different parts of the property, the students got a chance to see different types of vegetation and landscapes.

On the first day the students had a chance to visit a place on the CUE Haven stream to see evidence of some of the earliest land use by humans in the area.  Early Maori settlers created pools in the bed rock along the stream to store fish in summer when the stream level is low.

Thanks to the restoration efforts, the stream is once again healthy and thriving with kokopu, inanga, koura and many macroinvertebrates. The students also got a chance to see and hear some of the bird life that is returning to CUE Haven.

Once near the top of the property, the students had a good look at the Kaipara Harbour.  They were able to see how the CUE Haven stream feeds the Araparera River and in turn the Harbour.  And were also able to see a variety of land uses—farming, forestry, restoration and residential adjoining the CUE Haven property.

We finished off with a walk through the wetlands so the students could see how planting improved water quality and reduced runoff and sediment.

Once back at the cottage, the students had the opportunity to ask any questions about what they had heard and seen during the visit.

We have always hoped that CUE Haven will become an environmental education resource for the community and we are very happy to have schools like Westlake Boys use the space for learning.

We enjoyed hosting the students and sharing information about the restoration of CUE Haven and its positive effects on the water quality of the Kaipara Harbour. We want to thank Andrew for arranging the sessions and sorting all the complicated transportation requirements!

And a big thank you to all the teachers for their valuable assistance.

Lastly, many thanks to the students for their time and attention.  The weather on the second day made things a little messy and challenging but everyone coped well and we hope you found the visit helpful.  We wish you all the best with your assignment and further studies and hope you will come back to CUE Haven for a leisurely visit to explore and enjoy more of your community native forest reserve.

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