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Spark, Vodafone and Friends—8 November 2019

November 9, 2019

At CUE Haven the focus is on Cultivating Understanding and Enlightenment and bringing diverse people together to share ideas and learn.  Today we had an interesting variation of that as we hosted teams from Spark and Vodafone, New Zealand’s two largest digital services companies and their friends for a day of track work.  Although the companies are competitors, today was all about cooperation as everyone worked together on a variety of track maintenance tasks.

The group arrived early and included Anna, Charlotte, Dawson, Emily, Haider, Joe, Luke, Maria, Martin, Mike, Milina, Neil, Paul, Peter H., Peter W., Philip, Pieter, Pramoth, Prathim, Raluca, Reece, Rochelle,  Safinat, Shveta and Steve.

Also joining us was our good friend and regular volunteer Alan.

We spent some time catching up and getting acquainted over morning tea.  Mahrukh gave a welcome and introduction and updated the group on the latest developments at CUE Haven.

Thomas then gave a description of the work planned for the day and a safety briefing.

This was one of the largest track work groups we have ever had at CUE Haven and to manage the work we broke into five teams.  Each team tackled a different project but people also moved around between teams.

Trimming & Weeding

This time of year, everything is growing at CUE Haven, including weeds.  Because of the size of the group, Thomas had to bring the teams to the work site in two separate trips.  While waiting for the second team, the first team burned off some energy by tackling a big patch of weeds in an area we are clearing for a seating area.

In just a few minutes they cleared the weeds and the team went on to work on the walking track.

A separate team tackled more trimming and weeding work.  Because a lot of vegetation has grown over the tracks, in order to get them ready for summer, one of our ongoing tasks is keeping the tracks clear.  This team started out on the boardwalk and starting trimming away overhanging vegetation.

Once they finished trimming along the boardwalk, part of the team joined the track teams while the others moved up to the top of the property and worked down the main walking track. Thanks to all their efforts, the walking tracks are more comfortable to navigate.

Track Work

Thomas had already taken up most of the gear we would need and the first task for the track teams was to carry it down to the work sites.

Once all the equipment was on site we broke into smaller teams and went to work tackling a number of track maintenance challenges.

Stream Track

A section of the walking track runs along the CUE Haven stream and over the years there has been some erosion.  We have begun to improve the track by widening it and installing a handrail.  One team tackled the project of further widening the track and finishing off the railing section.

They first did some digging to widen the track.

They studied the area where the railing would be installed and first had to clear out a lot of old dead vegetation to see where best to put the railing posts.

They also noticed that part of the problem was that fallen branches and logs had blocked a section of the stream which was causing part of the erosion problem.  So they went to work clearing the stream.

It was a messy job but they were rewarded by seeing several fish in the stream.

The next task was to cut out the bank to create a level area for the post holes.

We used old fence posts for the railing posts and a couple of members of the team went down to “shop” for some good poles.

We drove the poles up to the start of the track and then carried them down to the site.

Holes were dug for the posts and the team cemented them into the ground.

Once the posts were positioned, we determined how much timber was needed for the railings and brought it down.

The final step was installing the rails.

It took a lot of teamwork to keep everything straight and level.

And thanks to the team efforts the end result is an amazing improvement to this 15 metre section of track.

Future teams will level off the track and install a layer of gravel.


In addition to the historic pa site at the top of the CUE Haven, there is also evidence of another historic Maori settlement site in the middle of the property by the rock pools in the stream.  We want to create a space here where visitors can spend time relaxing and also reflecting on the history of the property.  Some time ago we had installed an inspirational sign and a small bench in this an area and the task allocated to this team today was to expand the area and install another bench.

First the team had to relocate some small self-seeded nikau seedlings and they then proceeded to widen and level the track.

Once the area was cleared and levelled, they installed side boards to define the space and to prevent erosion.

We brought up the bench and figured out the best place to install it.

The first task was digging holes for the legs which would be cemented in place.

The bench was then placed in position, levelled and cemented in place.

Thanks to the team’s efforts this seven metre area is developing into a beautiful space for relaxation and reflection.


The walking track transitions from restored native vegetation to the stream gully where there is more established bush.  The transition section of track of about two metres, has always been quite steep and the task was to install some steps to make it easier for visitors.

The team took some time to plan the work to ensure that the steps were even and also avoided the tree roots in the area.

They then dug out the steps.

Once they had determined the layout of the steps they cut and installed the risers which were secured with pegs.

It took a lot of effort to keep the steps straight and level and even.

Thanks to the team’s work the end result is a great improvement in this section of the track.

Track Bordering

This walking track starts at one of the maintenance roads and was the first track developed in 2012.  Over the years as the trees have grown up it’s gotten harder to see the track. The task for this team was to reorient the track through the bush and install side boards to clearly define the track edges to make it easier for visitors to stay on the track.  The first task was to measure and dig out channels for the boards.

The side boards were then secured in place with pegs and nailed in.

It was a challenge ensuring all the boards lined up and the team took extra care to get everything straight.

The team managed to finish installing the borders for 30 metres – the entire section of track from the road to the new steps.


The teams wanted to finalize the sections of track they worked on and the last step is putting down a layer of gravel to make the track easy to use in all kinds of weather.

A group went down to the metal pile in the car park and loaded up buckets.

The buckets were loaded onto the ute and taken up to the end of the track.

The buckets were then unloaded and carried to the end of the track.

The buckets were dumped on the track and the gravel raked in.

All the teams accomplished an amazing amount of work and the track is looking better than ever.

The hard-working teams insisted on working all day, so we broke for a relaxing lunch after mid-day. Lunch was extra special today with the addition of the delicious home cooked butter chicken provided by Prathim and the naan bread provided by Safinat. Yumm!

Everyone went back to work after lunch and enthusiastically worked on till well past 5 pm!!

And Thomas was kept very busy making sure the teams had the timber and other supplies they needed and also taking pictures.  Sorry if he missed anyone!

This was a fantastic day of outdoor work and socializing and we want to thank everyone who participated.

A big thank you to Paul for organizing the visit today and for continuing to champion CUE Haven at Spark.

Many thanks also to Steve for engaging his Vodafone colleagues and having them join us today.  We hope this is the beginning of a new tradition and look forward to hosting more inter-company volunteer teams working together.

And thank you also to Spark alumni, Anna and Neil, and our regular volunteer, Alan, for taking the time to join us today.

And a special thank you to Prathim and Safinat for helping to make lunch extra special.

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone for their effort and hard work today. It was great seeing old friends again and for team members who hadn’t been to CUE Haven before, we really enjoyed meeting you and getting to know you.

We so appreciate your interest and enthusiasm.  It was great to see everyone working together to develop creative solutions to the track issues–everyone had great ideas and showed a lot of dedication to the work and the results are amazing.  The improvements will enable visitors to explore and enjoy the growing native forest safely and comfortably.

Your contribution and ongoing support is most valued.  We hope to see all of you back at CUE Haven both for another fun and productive day next year and also for a relaxing visit with your friends and families to explore CUE Haven this summer and to check out the new viewing platform at your native forest reserve.

Thank you!! Thank You!!

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