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Westlake Boys High School—8 & 9 June 2021

June 9, 2021

The focus at CUE Haven continues to be on education and we were very happy to once again host this year’s Year 11 geography students from Westlake Boys High School. The students were conducting field work in connection with their study of the Kaipara Harbour and how human activity affects it. 

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 visited CUE Haven and also did a boat cruise on the Kaipara and saw a presentation on water quality.  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 140 students accompanied by teachers Amy, Andrew, Brad, Elliot and Hannah.

Mahrukh started each session with a welcome and some background information on CUE Haven and a brief history of the restoration project.

The students’ assignment is to learn about how human activity impacts the Kaipara Harbour and specifically, the issue of sedimentation.  The assignment requires the students to understand the causes and effects of sedimentation, how it can be mitigated and the social and economic tradeoffs of alternative courses of action.  Thomas gave short presentation on how different activities (e.g., farming, forestry, urban development) impact sedimentation and also discussed remediation and tradeoffs.

Thomas also gave a short safety briefing before taking each group for a short walk around the CUE Haven property so see some specific examples of how the restoration project had affected the land and how it was affecting the 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 in 2016 and how remedial plantings were now helping to stabilize the land.

We stopped and had a look at the wetlands so the students could see how planting improved water quality and reduced runoff and sediment.

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

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 to put the different things they had heard and seen into perspective.

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

Lastly, many thanks to the students for their time and attention 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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