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Kaukapakapa School—29 November 2019

November 30, 2019

Today we were very happy to welcome Year 4 & 5 students from Kaukapakapa School for a day of learning and exploring. The school is only 15 km from CUE Haven and is the closest school to CUE Haven.

The Year 5 students came in the morning and Year 4 after lunch.

The Year 5 students arrived shortly after nine and included teachers Charlene and Karin and parents Jessica, Julie, Kylie, Mark, Rachel, Sam, Sharleen and Trine with 52 students.

Year 4 included teachers Claire and Nigel and parents Kara, Karl, Lara and Samantha and 44 students. And also parents Julie and Sam from the morning session.

We were also very happy to have Anna Baine of Auckland Council Parks joining us to help out.

Mahrukh gave both groups a brief overview about CUE Haven and described the planned activities.

The plan for each group was for the students to do a variety of activities which would help them learn about nature and how they can help protect it.  The students went for a nature walk so they could learn a little bit about native New Zealand plants and animals, and did activities to learn about conserving natural resources.  Because of the size of the groups, we broke each group into two.  One group did the nature walk while the other did the other activities and we switched over so that all the students had a chance to do all of the activities.

Nature Walk

Thomas took the group for a 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.  He showed them the neighbour’s paddock to give the students an idea of how CUE Haven looked eleven years ago and then showed them the 2008 and 2015 plantings so that they could compare the way the trees had grown up.

The students had a chance to see the area where a landslip occurred during a torrential rain storm in August 2016. The slip began on the neighbouring property but mainly affected CUE Haven. Thomas talked about the importance of having trees on hill slopes and showed the groups the remedial planting being done in the area to stabilize the hill slope.

During the walk, Thomas pointed out the difference between wetland and non wetland plants so the students could identify the difference and also explained how the plantings had helped water quality in both the CUE Haven stream and downstream in the Araparera River and the Kaipara Harbour.

As we continued our walk through the bush, the students got a chance to see many different native trees.

The students also got a chance to look out over the Araparera River and Kaipara Harbour and they could observe the connection between the CUE Haven waterways and the harbour and better appreciate how improving water quality at CUE Haven was helping the harbour.

Thomas reminded the students of the challenges that native New Zealand plants and animals faced because of introduced pest plants and animals.  The students have been learning about pest control at school and most of them are trapping at home.  They recognized the traps and tracking tunnels deployed throughout the property and also correctly identified the freshly caught stoat in one of the traps on the walk.

The group then headed down to a big puriri tree that been had saved from possum browsing.   Thomas showed the students pictures of the tree before we started doing pest control so the students could see how much damage the possums had done and a picture taken a few years later so they could see how the tree had recovered.

He then had them look at the tree and the area around it to see how much more things have changed.

That tree has become a home for kereru and a lot of karaka are growing up under the tree after the kereru have dropped the big seeds.

The students got a chance to see how everything in nature is interconnected—our pest control efforts saved the puriri tree, which attracted birds, in particular the kereru, who are in turn creating more forest by spreading the big seeds.

We finished up with a walk through the wetlands and then headed back to the nursery for the next activity.

Sustainable Living and Kaitiakitanga

The students also did an interesting activity with Mahrukh about resource depletion to help them better appreciate how to conserve our planet’s resources and be good kaitiaki (guardians) of our planet. The activity generated a lot of interesting discussion.

The students broke into groups of six or seven and each group was assisted by a parent or teacher.  Each group had a bowl full of small stones and an empty bowl, a pair of chopsticks, a fork, a teaspoon and a tablespoon.  The students were told that they were to take turns moving the stones from one bowl to the other, the first person was to use only their little fingers, the second the chopsticks, the third the teaspoon, the fourth the fork, the fifth person the tablespoon and the remaining could scoop up stones with their whole hand.

Mahrukh counted time as the students took turn moving the stones using their “tool.”

They were told to raise their hands as soon as they emptied the bowl.

Mahrukh then asked the students to imagine that the stones represented the Earth’s natural resources and their little fingers, chop sticks, forks and spoons represented the technical progress that has enabled humans to use resources more rapidly over the ages.  And then discussed how excessive use of all our natural resources would mean that there could be none left for future generations.

The students then spent some time in their groups discussing different ways to conserve resources – by Rethinking, Reducing, Reusing, Restoring, Repairing and Recycling.  They wrote down ideas for things they can do at school and home while the adults facilitated the discussions.

Although at first the students thought the activity was a game and the objective was to empty the stones from the bowl as quickly as possible, they realized the importance of what the stones represented and the risk to future generations of over consumption and they had some serious discussions of what they could do individually and as a society to reduce consumption and conserve resources.

Anna from Auckland Council gave the students an interactive talk about some of the pests the students have been catching and showed them a stuffed possum and an albino ferret.

At the end of each session, Mahrukh did an exercise with the students on identifying native New Zealand bird calls.

Although the native bird population at CUE Haven has increased significantly since the restoration of  CUE Haven started in 2008, we are hopeful that sometime in the future all the native birds will be thriving here.

Before the students returned to school, each student was given a small lolly.  Mahrukh told the students about the famous Stanford Marshmallow experiment and the numerous benefits of delayed gratification and controlling impulsive behaviour.  The students were asked to demonstrate their self control and hold on to the lolly and only eat it once they returned to school.

We really enjoyed spending time with the Kaukapakapa School students, teachers and parents and we want to thank Charlene for making all the arrangements for the visit.  And a big thank you the teachers and parents for helping out.

And a special thank you to Anna for coming out and adding her expertise.

And a BIG thank you to the students!  We really enjoyed meeting you and working with you and hope you enjoyed your visit as much as we did.

We hope you will come back to CUE Haven with your families to explore more of the property and see how the forest is growing. Looking forward to seeing you all often at your community native forest reserve.

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