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Spark and Friends—6 November 2020

November 7, 2020

Spark is New Zealand’s leading digital services provider and one of New Zealand’s largest companies.   Since 2013, Spark employees have been coming to CUE Haven for their staff volunteer days and have made major contributions to our walking track network.  Over the years, the team has grown to include Spark alumni who have moved on to other companies.

The group arrived early and included Anna, Charlotte, Dawson, Emily, Greg, Haider, Jo, Lisa, Lucian, Luke, Maria, Martin, Mike, Nhan, Paul C., Paul J., Peter, Pieter, Pramoth, Prathim, Rochelle, Safinat, and Shveta.

We spent some time catching up and getting acquainted over morning tea.  Because almost everyone had been out to CUE Haven previously, Mahrukh gave a short update on our current activities and plans.

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

The plan for the day was to continue to work on the walking track approaches to the viewing platform, but because of the size of the group and the fact that they have had a lot of experience at CUE Haven, we broke the group into several teams and tackled a variety of other tasks as well.  Most people worked on the walking track and over the course of the day, people moved among teams.

Finishing Off New Track

One team went to work to finish off a new section of track we are building to give visitors easy access to the platform area.  The work involved building an accessway to an existing track and installing side boards on the remaining new track sections.

Joining up with the existing track required a lot of planning and digging to create an easy flow between the tracks.

Once they had dug out and levelled the area, they decided they needed a step up to the old track.  They test fitted the step board.

They cut the side boards and step board to size and nailed everything into position.

The rest of the team worked on leveling and straightening the rest of the track and installing side boards.

Channels were dug out for the side boards and they were cut to size.

The side boards were secured with pegs and nails.

As they finished a section, they moved down the track.

And it didn’t take long for them to reach the end where the track joins the main walking track.

The new track looks great and will be enjoyed and appreciated by future visitors to the viewing platform.

Walking Track Improvement and Seating

Our friend Lyall has been working on a project to turn some of the off cuts of the platform foundation poles into seats for a long section of track in front of the viewing platform.   The plan is for three groups of seats arranged in the shape of matau, the Maori name for fish hook.  The matau has significant symbolism to Maori because of its relationship to the sea and it represents strength, prosperity and abundance and respect for the sea and a safe journey.

We wanted to finish off installation of the seats and also generally improve the track section.  It is a few years old and in some areas the side boards were out of position.

One team tackled the job and it was a challenging task because the previous day and night it had rained heavily and the track was exceedingly wet and muddy.  Once they got the seats secured, they went to work improving the side boards.

Each section represented a different challenge.  In some places, new pegs were needed, in others, entire boards needed to be replaced.

Another team finished off their track section and joined the group.

The stools were a handy platform for sawing the new side boards to size.

After lunch, things had dried out a bit and the team had the innovative idea of using some of the smaller pole offcuts as stepping stones around the stools.  They dug out holes and places the sections along the track.

The track improvements and the stepping stones look great and when things dry out a bit, future teams will finish off the area.

Trimming & Weeding

This time of year, everything is growing at CUE Haven and in several places, vegetation is growing out onto walking tracks.  Some team members working on the walking tracks used loppers to clear away some of the overhanging branches.

David very volunteered to trim along the walking track and after completing the entire track, he worked clearing bushes around the cottage.

Railing Installation

Last year we started installing some railings on a set of curved steps that connect the main walking track with a side track near the stream.  We haven’t been able to finish the railings because we needed another support post and we asked a team to tackle the challenge.

They started out by installing railings on the existing posts.

They then installed a new post for the remaining railings going around the curve.

The post was cemented into place.

They then finished installing the new railings, making the steps easier to use.

They also installed an additional rail on a nearby bridge to make it more secure.

Gate Bypass Track

The team did such a great job with the railings that we asked them to undertake another big challenge.  We have installed a gate at the bottom of the main race in order to prevent visitors from driving up in the forest reserve.  However, we wanted to create a way for visitors to walk up around the gate.

The job was challenging because the spot where we wanted the walkway was also a drainage ditch for water runoff from the race. The team studied the area and came up with a plan for a boardwalk over the area.

They selected the timber they needed from the nursery.

We took the timber down to the site and unloaded it.

They started by building a base that would allow water to flow underneath.

Once the base was complete, they installed the top boards.

They had the interesting challenge of covering the triangular areas at each end.

They came up with a plan to cut wedge-shaped sections to cover the area and the result is an amazing professional job!

As a last step, they attached wire mesh to the top of the platform to make it easier to walk on in wet weather.

This is how the gate and walkway look.

Walking Track Metalling

At the end of the day all of the teams came together to help spread a layer of metal on the new walking track sections.  We loaded up buckets of gravel in the car park and drove them up as close to the track site as possible.

Once on site, the buckets were carried to the various track areas and emptied.  We did several loads until all the new sections were finished.

Empty buckets were brought back for refilling.

The gravel was levelled and smoothed with rakes.

The result of everyone’s hard work is some attractive and easy to navigate walking tracks!

As usual we had a fantastic day of outdoor work and socializing with the Spark and Friends team 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.

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone for their effort and hard work. 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.

It was great to see everyone working together to develop creative solutions to today’s challenges–everyone had great ideas and showed a lot of dedication to the work and the results are amazing.  We so appreciate your interest and enthusiasm and 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 viewing platform at your native forest reserve.

Thank You!! Thank You!!

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