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Visit by Unitec Ecology Students—3 September 2019

September 3, 2019

Since 2010, Mel Galbraith, senior lecturer at Unitec in Auckland, has been bringing students in his Ecological Restoration class to CUE Haven to give the students a chance to do some first-hand observations of a restoration project in progress.  Because we have been planting since 2008, they can readily see different stages in the regeneration process and learn about the issues and challenges associated with each phase of the work.

Today Mel and Head of Department of Environmental and Animal Sciences, Dr. Dan Blanchon brought students Aaron, Abhinav, Benjamin, Beth, Greyson, Laura, Lewis, Lou, Manisha, Mel, Morgan, Naoki, Naru, Paul, and Poonam for a discussion and tour.  It was a rainy day with the forecast for heavier rain but the visit went ahead.

We started out with Mahrukh telling the students the history and objectives of the CUE Haven restoration project and plans for the future.

Thomas explained what we would be seeing and doing on the walk and gave a safety briefing.

We then headed out for the walk.  Thomas led the group and pointed out a number of features of the property and explained some of the challenges of the restoration project.  We discussed weed and pest control and the positive effect that pest management has had on native bird and animal life.

We visited the area where we had a slip in 2016 and discussed the causes of the slip and the effect of the remedial steps we have taken since then.  The students were able to see how soil disturbance has affected the growth of both natives and exotics as well as invasive weeds.

We carried on almost to the top of the property with frequent stops along the way to observe various aspects of the regenerating bush.  We took a small detour to see the Maori rock pools which are evidence of past human habitation on this site.

We walked near the boundary with the neighbouring farm so that the students could see the impact of different land uses on the landscape and how farming practices have affected the land and our activities at CUE Haven.

The students got a chance to see a variety of stages of forest growth on the walk.

And wetas in the weta hotels.

They took some time to identify unusual plants and even identified a pest weed that we will be eradicating.

Mel also noticed and identified some gorse spider mite, a natural biological control against the invasive gorse plant.

As always, we had a very enjoyable visit with the Unitec students.  We learn a lot from these visits and are always impressed with the enthusiasm and varied interests and knowledge of the Unitec students and staff.

Our many thanks to Mel and Dan for their continued support and to Mel for organising the visit.  And also a big thank you to the students for their enthusiasm and interest in the project.

It was a pleasure meeting all of you and we wish you all the very best in your endeavours and we hope you will all come back to visit us again soon!

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