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Kiwi Aversion Training for Dogs—7 October 2018

October 8, 2018

Since 2013 there have been kiwi in the area thanks to the efforts of our neighbours, Gill & Kevin Adshead at Mataia. Kiwi are New Zealand’s national bird and being flightless, are seriously endangered by introduced predators.  Farm dogs and hunting dogs may encounter kiwi in the wild and need to be trained to avoid them.

Aversion training involves making dogs want to avoid any kiwi that they encounter, but the training needs to be refreshed every couple of years to make sure the dogs still will avoid kiwi.

Since 2014 CUE Haven has been hosting  Kiwi Aversion training for local dogs.

Today’s program was sponsored by Kiwi for Kiwis and run by Pete Graham of the Northland Regional Council.  Here is Pete showing the stickers each dog owner receives to put on their vehicle, as some hunting and hiking reserves will not permit dogs that haven’t been through aversion training.

The training works by exposing the dogs to the scent and sight of a kiwi and giving them a mild but unpleasant electric shock at the same time.  The dog associates the sensation with the scent and will avoid kiwi in the future.

As in previous years, Pete brought out two dead, frozen kiwi and set up a run through which the dogs would have to pass and encounter the birds.

A kiwi was placed at each end of the run and the idea is that the dog will encounter the first kiwi, get a shock if it shows interest and then, if the training has been effective, it will avoid the second bird.

Today 21 dogs went through the training. The variety of dog breeds included –Visla, Visla cross, Spoodle, Hunterway, Staffordshire cross, Belgium German shepherd, Labrador, Jack Russell, Fox terrier and Border collie.

Except for a few new dogs, all of them had been exposed to the kiwi aversion training in prior years so today for most of the dogs it was more a test to ensure the training was still working.

The effectiveness of the training was demonstrated as most of the dogs just walked through the run and ignored the kiwi or refused to approach the run at all for fear of the zap they still remembered.

This dog which had been trained previously, was even reluctant to walk past the first kiwi:

And when it saw the second one, it didn’t want to get close, turning around to head back the other way.

But not all dogs were so lucky.  This new dog went up to the first bird and got a zap.

And didn’t want to go back into the run.

One hunter wanted his dog to feel as if they were actually out on a hunt and asked if he could bring along his rifle to make the dog think they were hunting.

As each dog finished the training, Pete presented the owner with a certificate which can be used as evidence of successful training.

As usual, it was a fun day and a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.  And it’s always a pleasure to meet up with the great dogs whose behaviour is a positive reflection on the efforts the owners have made to train them.

Gill and Kevin – our many thanks for taking the initiative and arranging for the training today. Your passion for conservation is a real inspiration to us.

And a very big thank you to Pete Graham for giving up a Sunday and coming out to conduct the training.  Pete, we really enjoy watching you interact with the dogs and their owners and we also appreciate you sharing with us some of your wealth of knowledge about kiwis and New Zealand native plants and animals and how to protect them.

Thanks again everyone for your participation – we looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

And we look forward to the day when kiwi will be roaming freely at CUE Haven too!


Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Gold Residential—1-5 October 2018

October 6, 2018

This week a great group of Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award (DoEHA) gold award participants made a lasting contribution to the CUE Haven landscape

The group arrived on Monday morning and included Domenic, Jaime, Jana-Marie, Jasmine, Joshua and Sarah.  Christine, who had previously done her residential at CUE Haven was the team leader.

Also joining us this week as the DoEHA on site leader was Heidi Van Duyn. And supervising and helping out too on most days was the DoEHA’s Outdoor Training and Development Director, Andy Woodhouse.

We started off with morning tea and introductions.  Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and Thomas gave a description of the work planned for the week, outlined expectations and gave a safety briefing.

The plan for the week was to do a variety of tasks.  Due to the size of the group, we split into two teams and each team worked on several different tasks.

Wetlands Bench Landscaping

There is an area in the wetlands where members of the community have planted several kahikatea trees as memorial plantings and the DoEHA team that had come in July built two benches for visitors to relax and spend time reflecting.

In July it was too wet to finish off the approaches to the benches and one team tackled the huge project of connecting the benches to the track and generally improving the whole area.

They headed out to the area to plan their work.

The first bench was built on a height and it required some steps up from the walking track.  This is what the group started with.

They measured out the area and figured out how many steps they needed and where to put them and went to work digging out the steps.

Once they were happy with the layout, they measured for the timber they would need.

And then went down to the shed to cut the timber they needed for the steps and side walls.

Back in the field, they installed the timber.

They then levelled the ground and collected some gravel to put on the steps and track to make it more comfortable and safer to walk on.

And then put on the finishing touches.

The last thing they did for that bench was to put some decorative tiles on the arms.

The bench area is now attractive, easy to access and will give visitors a fantastic vantage point.

The enthusiastic team then moved onto the next bench which presented a different set of challenges.

The curved bench was built at a high point on the track and the ground falls away from the outward side.  The team decided the best solution was to build a platform so that visitors could access the bench from both sides.

The job required a lot of digging and planning to form and retain the area.

Once they formed the area they cut the needed timber. Andy, Heidi and Thomas trained and supervised the students in the use of the power tools.

The team then took the timber up to the site.

And formed the platform and boxed it in.

The team decided that the old dead hawthorn trees were blocking too much of the view so they cut some of them away.

And made a great window!

The final result is a vast improvement and the group has turned this area into an attractive and comfortable space for visitors.

They even added some decorative touches with some tiles.

What a fantastic transformation!

Well done, team.

Additionally, this team also did a variety of maintenance tasks during the week.

They pruned back some overgrown bush –

Walked the boundary fence line and trimmed back overhanging vegetation—

–and marked out a new track to connect the area where we will be building the viewing platform to the wetlands area nearby.

Walking Track Upgrades

Some of the walking tracks at CUE Haven have seen a lot of wear and tear and after the wet winter weather there are a number of areas that could be improved.  Heidi’s team worked on a number of different track sections and each presented a different set of challenges.

The first challenge was to improve the retaining boards along a section of steep steps leading down to the stream where there had been a lot of erosion.  We took a look at the area to decide on the best approach.

The team went to work, digging out the steps, squaring them off and installing taller side boards to control erosion.

They also decorated the side boards with some colourful tiles.

Once all the new boards were in place, they covered the track with a layer of gravel to improve safety.

It was a real challenge carrying the heavy buckets from the nearest road to the track site.

And the result is a vast improvement in the appearance and function of the steps.

The team also decided that the area at the top of the steps was a nice place for a bench.

They planned out the bench and cut the timber in the shed.

And painted up the legs–

And also created a unique decorative panel for the bench.

Back in the field, they measured the site and dug the holes for the bench legs.

It was another challenge carrying up the concrete and water to secure the bench in place.

The team assembled the bench on site to make sure everything fit together properly.

And the end result is worth all their hard work.

A short distance away from the steps the team worked on, there was a section of track that runs along the stream.  There has been some erosion and the edge of the track was wearing away.

The team shored up the track, put in some retaining boards and built a decorative railing.

The result is a much improved track and also a very interesting feature. Future DoEHA teams will extend the retaining wall and railing along this section of the track.

The team found a couple of other areas that needed improvement.  One section of a track through thick bush has always been soggy and they built a step to make the track less slippery.

The last task the team tackled was to improve the access path to what we call the fantail chair.  The chair was built by a previous DoEHA team and provides great views of the Kaipara Harbour.  The back of the chair resembles the spread tail of a fantail.  The existing track was showing lots of wear and tear.

The team planned their work and dug out the old retaining boards and installed new boards.

It was already a major improvement, but the team went on to create a truly innovative addition to the track.  They decided to build a fantail into the track.  They cut out a head and made a tail and wings from timber.

Now there is really a fantail by the fantail chair!

The teams accomplished a lot but the week wasn’t all hard work.  There was lots of laughter and fun too.

They celebrated Jana-Marie’s birthday with apple pies and ice cream.

And also planted celebration trees for the occasion.

And they each made a memento picture frame.

It was a productive and fun week and we thoroughly enjoyed working with the group and really appreciate the creativity and enthusiasm they brought to every task.

In addition to their hard work, they also spent a lot of time getting to know each other, exploring the property and relaxing and sharing lots of laughs.

We’d like to thank Andy for taking time out of his busy schedule to assist with the residential and make it a fun and productive week.  Andy, we really appreciate your help this week and your continued support of our efforts at CUE Haven.

Our many thanks to Heidi for taking the time to help out.  Heidi, your skills, knowledge and guidance were a great help and much appreciated.  We are glad to have you on the CUE Haven team and look forward to seeing you again.

And a big thank you to Christine for serving as team leader and doing a great job of keeping things moving and contributing to the success of the residential week.

And of course, a huge THANK YOU to all the hard-working participants.  We really enjoyed meeting you and working with you.  It was great to see a group of young adults who didn’t know each other on Monday, so quickly come together to work as a team and also become good friends. And laugh so much!!

We were very impressed with your enthusiasm, motivation and hard work and we hope you enjoyed the week as much as we did.   You have all made a major contribution and your efforts will be appreciated by the many visitors and volunteers at CUE Haven over the years.

We wish you all the best in your studies and future endeavours and look forward to having you back at CUE Haven again – as team leaders and for casual visits.

Thanks again!!


Visit by Unitec Ecology Students—4 September 2018

September 4, 2018

Since 2010, Mel Galbraith, senior lecturer at Unitec in Auckland, has been bringing students in his Ecological Restoration class to CUE Haven to give the students a chance to do some first hand observations of a restoration project in progress.  Because we have been planting since 2008, they can readily see different stages in the regeneration process and learn about the issues and challenges associated with each phase of the work.

Today Mel, students Alex, Daniel, Emily, Phoebe and Tia, and Head of Department of Environmental and Animal Sciences, Dr. Dan Blanchon, joined us for a discussion and tour.

We started out with a discussion of the history and objectives of the CUE Haven restoration project, the planting process and our plans for the future.

Before heading out to explore the property the group disinfected their shoes. This is to help prevent the spread of the kauri dieback disease which has been affecting several reserves around Auckland.

Close to the nursery, we have a landscaped area and the group were lucky to see the endangered kakabeak plant in bloom.

Thomas then took the group on a walk through the property.  We started out in the wetlands where the students had a chance to see some of the features and challenges of the wetland planting area.

As we walked along, Thomas pointed out various features and aspects of the restoration work.  We discussed weed and pest control and the positive effect that pest management has had on native bird and animal life.

We visited the area where we had a slip in 2016 and discussed the causes of the slip and the effect of the remedial steps we have taken since then.

We carried on almost to the top of the property with frequent stops along the way to observe various aspects of the regenerating bush.

As always, we had a very enjoyable visit with the Unitec students.  We learn a lot from these visits and are always impressed with the enthusiasm and varied interests and knowledge of the Unitec students and staff.

Our many thanks to Mel and Dan for their continued support and to Mel for organising the visit.  And also a big thank you to the students for their enthusiasm and interest in the project.

It was a pleasure meeting all of you and we wish you all the very best in your endeavours and we hope you will all come back to visit us again soon!

King’s College—24 August 2018

August 26, 2018

King’s College in Auckland has been in existence since 1898.  The school has a strong commitment to academic excellence and all round personal development.  As part of that program, Year 10 students participate in a month long “Adventure Challenge,” during which they are involved in sailing, tramping, and a variety of outdoor activities, including community service.

We were very happy that this year the school chose to do their community service work at CUE Haven and today we had eighteen students and three instructors on site to help us with some planting work.

The group arrived at about 11 and included Alex, Charles, Gene, Hamish, Harry, Hunter, Josh, Lachlan, Levi, Logan, Matthew, Monty, Muhammad, Oliver, Rory, Thomas, Troy and William.  Instructors included Joel, Louis and Steven.

We got acquainted over lunch and we were really happy to see Alex and Hamish who had been out to CUE Haven with their primary school to plant trees when they were in Year 6.

Mahrukh gave a short talk about CUE Haven and Thomas gave a description of the work planned and a safety briefing.

The plan for the afternoon was to do some planting in a wet area near the top of the property and also to relocate some trees that have grown up in the area where we will be building a viewing platform later in the year.

Because the work site was near the top of the property, we drove the boys up two groups.

We had previously laid out the plants in the area to be planted.

However, a rainstorm before the team arrived made the planting site rather messy!

But the students had come well prepared with gum boots and wet weather gear and went to work planting the wetland trees in the wetland.

We also planted some manuka and karamu on higher and drier ground around the wetland.

The area we planted today is close to where we will be building a viewing platform next year.  As a result of design changes, we needed to relocate some trees we had planted last year,  that would otherwise have been bowled during the site excavations.

Some of the students helped to dig out and replant the trees in an area where we hope they will be happy.

Once this team finished relocating the plants, they joined the others and finished off the wetland planting.

When all the plants were in the ground, the students picked up all the empty pots and trays and loaded everything into the ute.

We finished off the day with a leisurely walk back to the cottage for afternoon tea. Along the walk the group got to see more of the property and learn a little about the restoration project and see the bush at different stages of development.

We want to thank King’s College teacher, Rod Pancourst, for organizing the visit and bringing the students out to CUE Haven to help out for the afternoon.

Once the viewing platform is constructed this summer, we will be then be constructing a walking track connecting the platform to the main track.  This new track will pass alongside the area planted by the students today and so visitors will be able to see and appreciate the efforts and contribution of the students.

Our many thanks to Joel, Louis and Steven for their help with organizing the students and planting. And a big thank you to the hard working students.

We really appreciate everyone’s efforts and help today. You have made a big contribution to CUE Haven, our environment and the community and we hope you will continue to make a difference and have a positive impact in all the projects you undertake.

And we hope you will frequent CUE Haven over the years with your family and friends to see the trees you’ve planted and to enjoy the community nature reserve that you have helped develop.

Thanks Again!!

Ētahi mahi hōnore mō te wahine Māori—Karanga Workshop At CUE Haven—14 July 2018

July 24, 2018

A karanga is a formal Māori ceremonial call to welcome visitors at the start of a pōwhiri.  Every karanga is unique to the circumstances, and there are rich traditions and rituals surrounding the form and content.  Unfortunately, much of the tradition is being lost.

We were recently honoured to have CUE Haven host a day long intensive karanga workshop for local Māori women.  The session was conducted by CUE Haven Advisory Board member, Rewana Waaka of Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara and her partner Bruce McSheffrey of Ngāti Kahungunu.

The workshop was attended by nine Māori women from the local hapu, or area. Our kaumatua, Haahi Walker, was also present and provided additional history, guidance and support for the programme.

Today’s workshop included an in depth look at the background and the rich traditions surrounding karanga, and included practice sessions.  The participants also had the opportunity to perform the basic karanga themselves.

It was a very successful day and the workshop was much appreciated by all the participants.  Our many thanks to Rewana for organising this session.

Rewana and Bruce are planning more workshops on Maori culture, tradition and crafts over the coming months for the wider community and we very much look forward to hosting them at CUE Haven.


For additional information and to learn more about this kaupapa, see:  Karanga:  The First Voice–Maori Television


Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Residential—16-20 July 2018

July 21, 2018

This week we hosted the 25th Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award gold residential.

The group arrived on Monday morning and included Annie, Caitlyn, Hayley, James, Kayla, Sophie, Suyeon and Vicky.  Hayley was the on-site team leader.

Also joining us for the week was Rangipai Hill-Dobson, the DoEHA CUE Haven residential leader and also on site helping out for most of the week was Andy Woodhouse, DoEHA National Training and Development Director.

We started off with morning tea and introductions.  Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and Thomas gave a description of the work planned for the week, outlined expectations and gave a safety briefing.

The July residential is always a challenge because it is in the middle of winter when the ground is wet and there is a good chance of rain.  As a result, we have to be flexible as to planning and activities.  We did have a lot of rain and mud, but the team coped very well.  The plan for the week was to do some planting, bench building and a variety of maintenance tasks.  The group broke into two teams to tackle different tasks.


The good news is that the bush at CUE Haven is growing thick and fast, but that means that we need to regularly trim back branches growing over roads, tracks and fence lines.  The team tackled various pruning jobs with loppers and secateurs.

Most of the trimming was along roads and tracks.

We also need to trim back the trees from the boundary fence to discourage the neighbours’ cows from coming over for a tasty snack.

Lastly, the team helped prune some of the fruit trees in the orchard.


Winter is planting season at CUE Haven and the participants finished off our planting for the season.  The first task was taking the plants up to the planting site.

Once on site, the team planted kahikatea, kawakawa, miro and karamu.

They also cleaned up the area around the DoEHA mosaic and planted some ornamental hebes around the mosaic.

The mosaic area is now a nice spot for visitors to have a seat and enjoy the surrounding bush.

Track Maintenance

Because it’s so wet in winter we can’t do a lot of track work, but there were a few critical tasks that we asked the group to do.

The first was fixing a washout on a long section of track.  The retaining boards and pegging supporting the track had collapsed and there was the threat of further erosion.  With Andy’s supervision, the team dug out the area, replaced and reinforced the retaining boards and generally straightened and improved the track.

The last task was to cover the improved section with gravel to make it safe in all weather.

The team also inspected the wetlands boardwalk to identify places where the wire mesh we installed to make the surface slip-proof was coming loose.  They cut out bad sections and replaced them with new mesh.

The most ambitious track project the team tackled was to extend the boardwalk on a section of walking track. The unusually heavy rain we have had the past month has made a long section of track virtually impassable and we decided to extend the boardwalk.

The team decided to reposition a small section of the existing boardwalk and also build a long section to extend the boardwalk.

Once the measurements were taken they built the framework.  Andy trained and supervised them in the use of power tools to cut the timber.

They then took the timber into the field and assembled the framework.

The completed framework was put into position and secured in place.

The top planks were then installed, a job that required a lot of nailing.

The team was then left with one of the bigger challenges—planking a curved section of boardwalk.  They studied the issue and came up with a plan for how to cut wedge planks to cover the area.

It was like putting a puzzle together and the team got it just right!

A very nice, professional job.

The last task was to install a layer of mesh over the new boardwalk section to ensure safe traction when the boards are wet.

They also put down a layer of gravel on the section of track with no boardwalk to make it easier to walk on during the wet weather.

Thanks to the team’s efforts this section of the track is now usable and comfortable to walk on.

Bench Building

While one team was in the field, the other team designed and built two innovative benches for the walking track.  There is an area in the wetlands where there is a walking track down a hill to a bridge.  The track is a series of switchbacks to make it easier to walk up and down the hill and there are a couple of places where we thought it would be nice for visitors to be able to sit and rest and enjoy the views.  The team studied the area and came up with designs for two benches.

The spent some time designing the proposed benches.

And then went to work to build them.

Pai trained the team in the use of the power tools and supervised their use.

The benches slowly took shape.

Once the benches were complete, the team spent some time in the field levelling the ground and preparing the area where the benches would be installed.

The benches were given their final touches and then loaded onto the ute and carried out to where they would be installed.

The team also brought up the concrete and water and tools that would be needed to cement the benches in place.

The first bench follows an angle in the track and was built in two sections.  It was a challenge to get sections aligned together and parallel to the track.  The team used a post hole borer to make holes for the benches.

Once the holes were made, there was a lot of digging still required to get the bench sections even and the surrounding area level.

The bench was then cemented into place.

Installation of the second bench also presented challenges.  It is on a more sloping section of track so there was a lot of work needed to level the area.

Also, this bench has a back which was installed in the field.

Extra large holes were needed for the bench legs and the back support timbers.

Installing benches is always a challenge and this time is was complicated by a torrential rain storm which made the area slippery and muddy.  But the determined team carried on and got the benches in.  They are a fantastic addition to the landscape and will be enjoyed by visitors for years to come.

Here are views of the new benches.

Future DoEHA teams will landscape the area around the benches.

This residential involved a lot of hard work in challenging conditions. But the team took some time to relax, socialise and enjoy the property.  They enjoyed stargazing at night and seeing the glow worms on the walking track.  And they also made friends with some of our bovine neighbours!

Our many thanks to Andy and Rangipai for their assistance working with the students and helping to keep projects moving.  We really appreciate your enthusiasm and support.

And thank you to Hayley for taking time out of your busy schedule to help out as the team leader.

And a BIG THANK YOU to the hard working team.  We really enjoyed meeting you and working with you and very much appreciate your many valued contributions to CUE Haven.  We hope you will come back to visit with your families and friends and we wish you good luck with your studies and much happiness and success in the future.

Thanks again!!


Overseas Chinese Association—16 June 2018

June 17, 2018

Our 2018 planting season finished off on a high note as our friends from the NZ Chapter of the Overseas Chinese Association combined a day of planting with their annual Dragon Boat Festival.  This is the fourth year in a row that the OCA have planted at CUE Haven and it was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones.   We were also joined by a group of enthusiastic Asian students who wanted to help out with tree planting.

The Overseas Chinese Association group members included Adonis, Andy, Benjamin, Cheng Huei, Chien-Chow, Cindy, Elaine, Grace, Heidi, Hsi-Hao, Ifsen, Jo, Joy, Julia, Lassie, Lauren, Lawden, Linda, Maria, Pearl, Rose, Ruby, Sam, Simon, and Wan.

The student volunteers included Carrie, Cheng, Nina, Yang and Yolanda.

We started out with a leisurely morning tea to give everyone a chance to get acquainted. Thank you Nestle NZ for providing the variety of Nescafe menus coffees for our volunteers.

Mahrukh then gave the group an update on the latest developments at CUE Haven and Thomas did a safety briefing and description of the work planned for the day.

The plan for the day was to do infill planting in an area that had originally been planted in 2010.  The pioneer trees have grown up and created the right environment to plant long-lived canopy trees and today the group planted totara, puriri and kohekohe.  While some of the group planted, the rest worked to trim vegetation that had over grown along the road and walking tracks.

The first task was to get up to the work site.  Thomas drove up a group in the ute, but a lot chose to take advantage of the great weather and walk up.

Thomas then gave a planting demo and a reminder of safety issues and the group went to work.

As the planting team moved through the bush, the trimming team followed closely behind.  They trimmed back vegetation that had grown out into the track.

In a little over an hour, the hard working group managed to plant all the trees we had!  We all took a leisurely walk back to the cottage for the special Dragon Boat Festival lunch.

They also took time to clean and put away the equipment—Thanks!

While most of the team was in the field, a few people stayed behind to prepare the lunch which included tasty sticky rice dumplings, ginger soup, vegetable soup, chicken and salads.

Everyone then had a fun and relaxing lunch.

Maria, who has been a frequent visitor at CUE Haven is finishing up her four year posting as Vice Consul with the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Auckland and will be leaving New Zealand next month.  She and gave a farewell speech to the group. Maria, we wish you all the best in your new posting and hope you will come back to see us when you visit New Zealand in the future.

We had a fantastic day with everyone and we were very happy to have been able to meet up with old friends and make new friends.

We want to thank Adonis for all his help with organising his group’s visit and also, our thanks to Nina for bringing her family and friends along today.

And a special BIG THANK YOU to everyone who came today. We very much appreciate your friendship, your enthusiasm and hard work and your continued support of our efforts at CUE Haven.

You have all made a major contribution not only to CUE Haven but also to our planet and the community. Clearing the overgrown vegetation will encourage new growth in the trees.  The new trees you planted today are a lasting legacy and will live for hundreds of years and provide a wonderful habitat for numerous plant and animal life and also create a wonderful native nature reserve for the whole community to enjoy for many generations.

Many Thanks again!!  We’re very much looking forward to having you visit again soon.