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Spark—17 June 2022

June 18, 2022

Spark is New Zealand’s leading digital services provider and one of New Zealand’s largest companies, Spark employees have been coming to CUE Haven annually since 2013 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 first thing in the morning and included Chris, Greg, Luke, Martin, Neil, Paul, Peter and Phillip.  Also joining us for the day was our good friend and regular volunteer Alan.

Because almost everyone had been volunteering at CUE Haven for many years, we spent morning tea catching up.  Thomas then gave a safety briefing and explained the plan for the day.

The Spark team are all experienced volunteers and as a result we usually save especially challenging tasks for them and today we tackled two of the biggest challenges.  Not only was the work technically and physically challenging, we also wanted the jobs fully completed because this team is the last volunteer group we will have until spring and we did not want to have track inaccessible due to the work not being completed.

The first task was to put a railing on a curved set of narrow steps to make it easier for visitors to navigate the steps.  

The team spent some time measuring and planning the work.  They had to determine which side to install the railing on and how to cope with the bends in the steps.

The team determined how many posts and how much timber they would need and we brought everything down.

They determined where to position the posts and used a post hole borer to dig the holes.

The posts were then installed and secured in place.

They took time to make sure the posts were secure and straight.

Once the posts were secure, the railings were attached.  It took teamwork to get the right height and angle.

The railings were nailed in place.

They worked their way down the stairs, installing the railings.

The railing is a great addition and future visitors will definitely appreciate it—you can see the challenges the team had to deal with in installing the railing.

The team also went ahead and installed a new top rail on an old railing that ran along the stream.  The old railing had been made of old tree branches and was beginning to fall apart.

Thanks to the team’s efforts the track is looking better than ever—great job!

The other project we tackled was totally reworking an old section of track.  The original CUE Haven walking track followed the stream and several years ago we installed a bench along the track.  The bench had been cemented into the ground and when a few years later we built the Taraire track it joined the old track next to the bench.  Because the bench was already in place, the track was routed around it so that visitors could access the two tracks and the bench. 

Since then we have found that the space is a nice spot to have students assemble for waicare and other activities but the immovable bench meant we couldn’t be flexible in how we used the space.  Plus the steps down to the Tairare track entrance were narrow and steep and could be improved.

We told the team that the objective was to open up the space so that we could put movable benches and use the space dynamically and also to make the steps wider and easier to navigate.

The team studied the area to come up with a plan of attack.

Originally the track ran on both sides of the fixed bench and the team decided that they would create a dedicated platform for benches and only a single track between the platform and the stream.

The first challenge was to remove the bench and a totem pole, both of which had been concreted into the ground.

The bench was removed and set aside and we will repurpose it later.  Removing the totem pole took a lot of digging and the team decided to relocate it a further along the track.

Once the platform area was clear, the team could determine how to route the track and build out the new platform.

They started digging out the area.

Luke and Martin then tackled reinstalling the post.  First they dug a deep hole.

They then wrestled the pole into place and secured it.

In the meantime, work continued to reconfigure the platform.

Once the area was dug out and the new platform layout determined, the team brought down the timber for the retaining wall.

The timber was installed.

The platform area was levelled off.  Future teams will finish off the approaches to the platform.

At the same time, Neil tackled removing the old narrow steps and building a new set of steps.

The team decided to make the steps wide and even and in order to improve on the original steep three steps, they had to continually cut back to keep the steps even and level.  As a result they built five new steps in addition to improving the original three.

As they carved out the steps, they installed risers to keep the steps secure.

They checked to make sure everything was level and even.

The hard working team kept Thomas busy cutting more timber to size to use as pegs.

Everyone took turns digging out the heavy clay.

The hard working team took a lunch break and then went back to the field to finish off the steps.  The end product is an amazing achievement.

The new platform and track are a fantastic improvement and future teams will finish off the area so that it is a great spot for education and relaxing.

The team finished off the day by putting a layer of gravel on some track sections as well as the new sections they completed.

We loaded up buckets of gravel.

We drove to the closest point and unloaded the buckets and carried them down to the work site.

The gravel was dumped on the track and raked smooth.

The empty buckets were taken back and refilled and after numerous trips to the metal pile, the team completed metaling the area they had worked on.

The team accomplished an amazing amount of really challenging work and as usual we had a fantastic day of outdoor work and socializing with the Spark team.

A big thank you to Paul for organizing the visit today and for continuing to champion CUE Haven at Spark. And thank you to Alan for giving up a day to come out to help–we really appreciate your insights and help.

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 volunteer day and also for a relaxing visit with your friends and families to show them your wonderful handiwork as you explore more of CUE Haven.

Thank You!! Thank You!!

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