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Westpac—10 August 2021

August 11, 2021

Westpac is one of New Zealand’s largest banks and they have a strong commitment to sustainability and community support.  Westpac staff have been volunteering at CUE Haven for several years and today professionals from various departments in Auckland visited CUE Haven to help us with some tree planting and a variety of other tasks.  The team arrived first thing in the morning and included Afiafi, Anne, Ashleigh, Elise, Glen, Hannah B., Hannah E., Luke, Nick, Sacha and Zoe. Also joining us for the day was Afiafi’s husband, William, who took the day out from his work to help out today, and our good friend and regular volunteer Alan.

We got acquainted over morning tea and as most of the group was new to CUE Haven, Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and our plans for the future.  Thomas then explained the plan for the day and gave a safety briefing.

The plan for the day was to finish off our planting for the year and then do some track work and build some benches for the tracks.  Today we were planting some kahikateas  as well as some puriri, taraire, houhere and whauwhaupaku.

We carried the plants down to the site and Thomas explained where the trees should be planted, gave a planting demonstration and reminded the group of the safety briefing.

The group broke into teams of two and headed out to find good planting sites.  We had been concerned about the weather because the previous two days we’d had gale force winds and rain, but today was brilliantly sunny and a perfect winter day that felt like spring.

The kahikatea like to be planted in wet areas and the teams weren’t afraid to get their feet wet!

When we’d finished all the planting, the team gathered up the spades and empty pots and brought everything back up to the ute.  We then broke into three smaller teams to tackle the remaining tasks.

Two teams stayed in the field with Thomas to work on some track maintenance challenges and the other went down to the nursery with Alan to work on benches.

The first team worked on a section of track that needed a side board to protect against erosion.  The first task was to study the track and determine the best solution.  One side of the track already had a board installed so one challenge was to keep the track straight and parallel.

The team checked the alignment of the track with string and then benched out the line and installed the new boards.  The project involved a lot of digging to straighten the track and then the side boards could be positioned and secured in place with pegs.

As they finished one section, they continued down the track, installing new boards. Everyone got a chance to do a variety of tasks, from digging to nailing.

As they moved down the track, they noticed that some of the older boards on the other side had started to move out of alignment decided to fix the problem before continuing on.  Much appreciated!

The team wanted to completely finish off the section they’d worked on so we finished it off with a layer of gravel to make the track suitable for all year and all weather use.  We went down to the car park and loaded up buckets with gravel.

We drove the buckets up as close as possible and carried them down to the work site.

Once they got to the end of the track the gravel was dumped on the track and raked smooth.  The team did a great job improving this section of the track and future teams this spring/summer will continue on from their work.

The second team tackled an interesting challenge.  Several years ago, we’d installed a nice bench along the Taraire Track.  However, we found that visitors weren’t using it because it was set up too high and it was easier to just sit on the step up to the bench.  As a result of disuse, the bench area had become overgrown with (good and bad) vegetation.  We asked the team to clear the area around the bench and come up with an easier access to the bench to encourage people to use it.  This gives you an idea of the issue:

We decided that the best approach was to lower the track retaining wall and install an intermediate step up to the bench.  The first step was clearing the area so they would have room to work.

They then measured and checked the area to determine the best location for the step.

Next they dug out the area for the new step and prepared the riser board.

They then installed the riser board, checking to make sure it was straight and level.

Because the track slopes downhill, they installed a second board so the step would be level with the bench.

Once the front boards were properly secured, they boxed in the step with a side board.

The track team brought over a few buckets of gravel to fill in the steps.

And the end result is a great improvement!

Great job team!

Both teams finished up at about the same time and we gathered up all the tools and spare timber and headed back to the cottage for a late but well deserved lunch.

While the two teams were in the bush working on the tracks, the third team worked with Alan on building benches.  While we were planting, Alan planned out a bench style. The first task was to prepare the timber and cut the pieces.

The team checked the measurements for the various pieces that would make up the benches.

Alan explained how all of the pieces were to be assembled.

To make the benches look and feel professional, they sanded off the rough bits.

Once a prototype had been built, Alan trained the team and supervised them in the use of power tools and they cut out pieces for additional benches.

They went to work assembling the benches.

The production line churned out four great benches which will be moved out onto the tracks for visitors to enjoy. 

Today was an amazingly fun and productive day.  The group did a huge amount of work and we really appreciate their efforts. 

We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did.  Zoe – many thanks for organising the team’s visit today.  It was great meeting the team and wonderful having Afiafi and Hannah back for another volunteer day. 

Also a big thank you to Alan and William for joining us and helping out.

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone for all your hard work and efforts today. It was great chatting with you all and we thoroughly enjoyed working with you.  You have all made a major contribution to CUE Haven.  The trees you planted will live for hundreds of years and your efforts will be greatly appreciated by visitors as they comfortably walk the tracks and rest on the benches while exploring the growing native forest.

We look forward to having you all out to CUE Haven soon to explore more of your community native forest reserve with your family and friends. And also back again for another productive volunteer day!

Thank You!! Thank You!!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Don P. Steiner permalink
    August 12, 2021 3:33 am

    The work done looks awesome! Thanks to all who participated.

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