Skip to content

ANZ Institutional and Commercial Operations—13 February 2019

February 14, 2019

ANZ, New Zealand’s largest bank, continued their wonderful support for CUE Haven as a small but hard working group from the Auckland-based Institutional and Commercial Operations Team spent a day assisting with walking track maintenance.

The team arrived at 8:30 and included Barry, Bijal, Farisha, Irina and Jean.  Also joining us were student volunteers Bridie and David.  It was great to see old friends and meet new people.

We got acquainted over morning tea and then Mahrukh gave a talk about the CUE Haven project and our plans for the future.  Thomas then described the plan for the day and gave a safety briefing.

In order to give the group a chance to see a little more of the CUE Haven property, we scheduled two different activities for the day.  We also wanted to spend as much time in the bush to avoid the hot sun! The first task was to trim some of the vegetation has that has been growing onto the walking tracks.

We drove the group up to the top of the property and then started working down the track.

In addition to being a nice social activity, the group enjoyed the exercise they got—stretching . . .

And bending!

After trimming almost half the track, the group took a short break and then moved on to the next task.

We recently built a short boardwalk over a low spot on one of the track sections but hadn’t had a chance to finish off the approaches to the boardwalk where the ground was uneven.

The group broke into two teams to tackle each end of the boardwalk.  They studied the situation and came up with the best solution to the challenge.  The first step was to dig out and level the ground.

The groups decided that to prevent erosion and improve appearance, some side boards on the approach to the boardwalk would be a good idea.

They measured the lengths of timber required.

And then cut the boards to the required size.

Sawing the boards in the field required teamwork!

The side boards were then pegged and nailed into place.

And the track was levelled off.

The end result is a great improvement and the group should be very proud of their efforts!

The group also moved down the track to have a look at another section where the steps could be widened.  They didn’t have a chance to complete the job but got a start and future teams will finish off their idea to improve that space.

It was a very productive day and we finished off with a leisurely walk back to the cottage for a relaxing lunch and good conversation.

Our many thanks to Jean for organising today’s visit and for championing CUE Haven at ANZ.

And of course a huge thank you to all the hard working team members.  We really enjoyed working with you and very much appreciate your efforts.  You have made a major contribution to the CUE Haven landscape and your work will be enjoyed and appreciated by visitors for many years to come.  We hope you will come back with your families and friends for a more leisurely visit and back next year for another ANZ volunteer day.



Bird Study At CUE Haven

January 31, 2019

Our vision is for CUE Haven to be used for enjoyment and environmental education, and over the years several students have done studies and field work on the restored property.

Accordingly, we were delighted when scientist Dr. Josie Galbraith contacted us about the possibility of a couple of PhD students coming out to CUE Haven to do some research on birds.

This time of year, a lot of native plants are flowering and a variety of birds are visiting them for nectar. Additionally, the 165,000 native trees at CUE Haven provide habitat for native and introduced New Zealand birds.

Tui on Flax

The research team included Dr. Josie Galbraith, Auckland War Memorial Museum – Project Curator, Natural Sciences, PhD candidate Daria Erastova, the University of Auckland, and Marion Donald, PhD candidate from Rice University in the US who is in NZ as a research scholar at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research.  Also ecologist Ruby Moore from Auckland Museum came out to assist for the two days.

From left to right: Daria Erastova, Marion Donald, Josie Galbraith, and Ruby Moore

The team set up fine nets by the wetlands near the cottage to harmlessly catch the birds and monitored them regularly.

Over the two days they were on site, the team saw a high diversity of bird species. This was exciting news, as the bird list included a strong showing of New Zealand natives, specifically silvereye, tui, kingfisher, and fantail. The introduced species that joined this list were the chaffinch, greenfinch, sparrow, dunnock (which has a similar appearance to the sparrow), myna, blackbird, song thrush, blackbird, and warbler. Additionally, the team enjoyed the sounds of the native morepork after dark. All together the team detected 14 bird species at CUE Haven!

Daria with a Greenfinch





Juvenile Grey Warbler

Josie Galbraith Releasing a Tui

As part of an ongoing effort contributing to New Zealand’s ornithological records, the team—led by Daria Erastova and Dr. Josie Galbraith—banded the birds and recorded morphological data.

The research scientists completed two successful days at CUE Haven. In addition to the field work, they took some time to relax and catch up on academic reading too!!

We really enjoyed meeting the team and watching them at work.  We wish them all the best with their research and careers. And look forward to having them back to CUE Haven for a follow up study and other research in the near future.










Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Residential—14 – 18 January 2019

January 19, 2019

CUE Haven is looking better than ever after the 27th Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award gold award residential this week.  The weather was great and the hard working group accomplished a lot.

The group arrived on Monday morning and included Bethany, Cindy, Claire, David, Jenna, Kabilan, Oliver and Sai.  Alex, who had been a participant in the July 2017 residential, was the team leader.

Also joining us for the week was Rangipai Hill-Dobson, the DoEHA onsite leader and also helping out for part of the week was Andy Woodhouse, DoEHA Outdoor Training and Development Director.

We got acquainted over morning tea and gave the participants an overview of the CUE Haven project, the planned work for the week and a safety briefing.

After lunch, we went for a short tour of the property to give the participants a better feel for the project and the work they would be doing.  Summer is maintenance season at CUE Haven and we had a long list of maintenance and building tasks for the group.

Road and Track Cleanup

The warm summer weather has been good news for vegetation at CUE Haven—both the good and bad.  Some of the roads and tracks have become overgrown with trees and the students spent some time cutting back the overhanging branches or weeds.

Track Entrances

There are two entry points from the main drive to tracks built by previous Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary award teams.  Over time, wear and tear and erosion had made the entry ways uneven and unattractive and we asked the team to come up with solutions and improve the appearance of the track approaches.

They decided to level each approach and install side boards to guide visitors between the road and track.  This involved a lot of digging to level the area and to make channels for the side boards.

Once the channels were dug out, the retaining boards could be measured, cut and installed.

The result is greatly improved and much more attractive entrances to the tracks.

The group of nine formed two new teams to work on the other tasks for the week.

Track Drainage

A small stream runs across one of the tracks and previous teams built a small bridge over it.  Under the bridge there is an old drain pipe from the days when CUE Haven was a farm.  The increasingly heavy downpours of late have brought down a lot of debris that has blocked the pipe and the channel under the bridge.  The resulting overflows have damaged the track further downhill.

We asked the team to study the washout and come up with a solution to the drainage problem.

They found where the water was coming from and where flow was impeded and also found that the drain pipe had blocked.

Their solution was to widen the channel for the stream, clear the pipe, and dig a new small culvert to divert overflow.

Clearing the drainpipe was a challenge but Alex managed very well.

Once the new system was complete, they tested it out with some water.

And everything worked fine – Yeah!!

It was a good combination of creativity and hard work and the track will now be much easier to maintain.

Bridge Railing

While working on the drainage, the team decided that a railing over the bridge would be a good addition to the track.

The first challenge was that the curve of the existing track meant that the railing would not be parallel to the bridge.  The team decided to realign the track so that the rail wouldn’t have to be curved.

They dug out the existing retaining boards and reinstalled new ones.

The next task was to dig holes for the posts that would support the railing.

The posts were levelled and cemented in place.

Once the posts were firm, the team planned the railing.  They took detailed measurements in the field.

The team went back down to the nursery to make the railing sections.  The first task was cutting out the top rail.

The team spent some time coming up with a unique design for the rail and decided on a wave pattern to cover the area between the posts.  They drew it on plywood and cut it out.  Rangipai and Alex trained others in the use of the jigsaw and supervised the work.

The sections were carefully sanded.

Then carried up to the bridge and installed.

The wave pattern bridge rail is a wonderful addition to the CUE Haven landscape and will provide visitors walking along that track with a very unique and interesting feature to admire.

New Boardwalk Section

While Alex’s team was working on the bridge rail, the other team worked on a different track.

One of the oldest sections of walking track runs alongside some mature bush and a mature kahikatea.  The old track was quite narrow and steep and some drainage issues were also arising.

The team took some measurements in the field and then came down to brainstorm solutions to the issue with Thomas.

We then took some timber up to do some test layouts of the alternative solutions.

Based on the tests, the team concluded that the best solution would be a low boardwalk that would not interfere with the trees and roots but would also allow for drainage and an easy slope down.

Back in the nursery/workshop the team assembled the framework for the boardwalk.

When the frame was complete it was carefully measured so that the number of top boards needed could be calculated.

The top plank boards were cut and the frame and planks were taken up to the site.

The team checked to ensure the frame was level

And then anchored the level frame with pegs.

Once the frame was firmly in place, the top boards were nailed down.

The last step the team did was to nail down a layer of wire mesh to provide traction in all weather conditions.

The boardwalk looks great and is an excellent improvement to the track.


We want to give visitors to CUE Haven every opportunity to enjoy being in nature, so we are installing benches at short intervals along the tracks.  The plan for the week was to build two benches.

The kahikatea boardwalk team comprising  Cindy, Claire, David and Oliver decided to build a bench at the top of the track by the DoEHA carved posts where the team had earlier improved the entry way.

They spent some time planning their design and David came up with the interesting idea of making a curved bench, something we’ve never done before.

Andy and Rangipai supervised the cutting of the timber.

Once the top timbers were cut out, the next task was to assemble the bench.

The length of the legs was calculated and the timber cut.

Supporting braces were cut out and assembled.

Once the bench seat was complete, the legs were attached.


Once the bench was assembled, any rough spots were sanded down.

The team went up to the site to prepare and level the area where the bench would be installed.

The completed bench was brought up to the track and then carried to the site.

Sai and Kabilan assisted the team with digging the holes for the legs cementing the bench in place.

The new bench is a wonderful addition and it will be enjoyed by many visitors for years to come.

Alex’s team included Bethany, Jenna, Kapilan and Sai and they worked on the bench to be installed further down the track near the bridge where they had installed the wave railing.

They took some time to do some planning and came up with a design to compliment the wave design on the railing.

Rangipai and Alex supervised them as they measured and cut out the needed timber.

And the bench took shape.

While the bench structure was being assembled, part of the team worked on the challenging task of cutting out the wave decoration pattern.

The decorative strips were sanded to smooth out the rough edges and then carefully attached.

The completed bench was taken up to the site.

And the area was cleared and levelled.

The holes for the legs were dug and the bench was cemented into place.

This bench too is a lovely addition to the CUE Haven landscape and adds a new dimension to the space.

Other Tasks

There are always lots of jobs to do at CUE Haven and we asked the team to help out with a couple of other small jobs.  There is a fence near the top of the property which needed to have a section of battens tightened.  The team went up with hammers and took care of the fence to ensure that it is secure.

There is an area that we want to further develop as an outdoor classroom/rest area, but there have been some drainage and washout problems in the area lately after heavy rains.  There was a signpost and bench in the area and the digger man asked that we move them so that when he comes through they won’t be damaged or in the way.

The team dug out around the bases of the bench and sign and we were able to move them out of the way temporarily.

This was another very successful residential week.  The team worked well together, got a lot done and had fun.  The students were out of their comfort zone and the entire team should be very proud of their efforts.  Through teamwork and hard work they have made a lasting contribution that will be much appreciated by visitors to CUE Haven.

It was a fun and productive week and we’d like to thank Andy Woodhouse for taking time out of his busy schedule to assist with the residential.  Andy, we really appreciate your help and your continued support of our efforts at CUE Haven.  And Happy Birthday again!

And many thanks to Rangipai for taking time away from work to help out.  We really value your guidance and advice and very much appreciate your contributions.

And a BIG thank you to Alex for serving as team leader—you really helped make this residential so successful with your excellent team leadership.

And of course, a huge THANK YOU to all the hard-working participants.  We very much enjoyed meeting you and working with you.

We were very impressed with your 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’re very happy you had a chance to make some new friends and create some lasting memories.

We wish you the very best of luck with your studies and much success in all your future endeavours and we hope you will come back to CUE Haven again with your family and friends and to serve as team leaders.



Seasons Greetings!

December 23, 2018

                    Mingimingi Flowering at CUE Haven–November 2018


To Our Wonderful Supporters and Volunteers–


Seasons Greetings and blessing for a healthy, happy & peaceful 2019

Thank you for your continued interest & support to develop a community native nature reserve.

We look forward to seeing you again at CUE Haven

Bayleys—12 December 2018

December 13, 2018

We finished off our 2018 volunteering season on a high note as an enthusiastic team from Bayleys Auckland’s Property Management department combined community service with their Christmas party.

This is the first time Bayleys, New Zealand’s largest full service real estate company, have volunteered at CUE Haven and today we welcomed Andrea, Anna, Ashleigh, Ayden, Braden, Cathy, Chris,  Craig I., Craig S., Craig W., David, Grace, Hamish Mack., Hamish Macr., James, Jason, Jayneil, Jessica, Kane, Kev, Leilani, Massimo, Nicole, Paul, Reece, Ria, Savanna, Stacey, Tiana, Todd, Tracey, Warren and William.

Also joining us for the day was our friend Alan.

The group arrived at around nine and after a welcome morning tea, Mahrukh gave an orientation to CUE Haven.

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

The plan for the day was to do some track remediation work and we broke the group of 33 into four teams.

The first challenge was to get the big group up to the work site.  Thomas drove them up in small groups and while the others waited, they helped out by moving the timber.  It had been delivered the day before to the car park, but we wanted it out of the sun and stored in the nursery/workshop.

The teams were all working in the same general area and people moved around from team to team over the course of the day.

One team was assigned to do some trimming of vegetation growing over the tracks.  They were the first team to get to the site so they could start work trimming away weeds and vegetation that had grown up along the track.

The other three teams worked with Alan and Thomas on fixing up sections of a walking track that connects the main race to the main walking track.

One team worked with Alan to widen a section of the track that cuts across a steep grade.  The work involved benching the bank and shoring up the exposed wall with timber.

They started out by doing a lot of digging . . .

Some of the team members brought up the timber that would be used for the side boards.

Once the track was widened, the boards were positioned and adjustments made to ensure the boards were straight.

The boards were secured with pegs and nailed into place.

In no time the team became experts in hammering in nails!

In the meantime, the other two teams worked to put side boards along long sections of track that linked up steps and a small bridge.  The side boards will make it easier to maintain the track and will also provide a visual cue to visitors to stay on the tracks.

The first task was to dig out channels for the boards.

The teams then positioned the boards.  Each section was a new challenge in terms of how the boards were attached to the existing track structures.  The boards also needed to be cut to size and kept parallel with each other.  It was great to see the teamwork as the groups worked together to come up with creative solutions to the different track issues.

The side boards were secured with pegs and nails.

Getting corners just right was another challenge.

To improve traction on the track, we spread a layer of gravel and a small team went up to collect some gravel.

The gravel was raked and levelled to finish off the track.

When we were finished, the team gathered up all the gear and loaded it in the ute before heading back to the cottage for some refreshing drinks and fruits.

In just a couple of hours, the teams managed to make major improvements in the track.  Future teams will pick up from where we left off to complete upgrading the entire track.

A big thank you to our dear friend Alan for helping out today.  Alan – we really appreciate your time, expertise, hard work and your continued support.

Many thanks too to Barry for organizing the day and championing CUE Haven at Bayleys.  Barry – sorry you couldn’t join us today, but we look forward to having you out for a visit soon.

And a special BIG THANK YOU to the Bayleys team for all their hard work and efforts. You have all made a major contribution to the CUE Haven project and your efforts will be appreciated by visitors as they walk the tracks to explore the growing native forest. What a great Christmas gift!!

We hope you enjoyed the start of your Christmas celebration and we very much look forward to having you back for a more leisurely visit with your family and friends to explore your community native forest. And of course back next year for another productive volunteer day!!


Fleet Partners–5 December 2018

December 6, 2018

Fleet Partners NZ is a leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company based in Auckland.  Since 2014, corporate staff from the Auckland office have been doing their volunteer day at CUE Haven.

Today a small but dedicated group joined us for a fun and productive day.  The group arrived first thing in the morning and included Chris, Daniel, James, Paul, Ryan, Trevor and Vivienne.

Over morning tea, Mahrukh gave a welcome and orientation to CUE Haven for the benefit of the people who hadn’t been out before. She explained the history of the project and our plans for the future.

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

The plan for the day was to continue work on a boardwalk we have been building in the wetlands.  The job today was to work at both ends of the new section, finishing up the last bits, and  do some other track improvement tasks.

We broke the group into two teams to work simultaneously on each section.

One of the teams worked to finish off a curved track section that included some steps.  Getting the steps even and straight was a challenge and they spent some time studying the area to determine the best solution.

They came up with a plan to align the frames.

Once everything was level and straight, the top boards were installed.

They even cut small wedges to fill in all the little gaps to make a truly professional looking job!

In the meantime, the other team worked to finish off another corner.  This involved putting in a supporting frame and nailing planks on top.

They carefully measured the area to determine how long the supporting frame needed to be.

They then cut the board to size and installed it.

Once the frame was in place, the top boards were nailed in place to finish off the boardwalk!

The final boardwalk task was to put down a layer of wire mesh to make the boardwalk safe to use in all weather.

The new boardwalk section is a great addition to the CUE Haven walking track network and all of the teams who were involved in building it should be very proud.

While part of the group finished off the boardwalk mesh, the rest of the group went into the bush to work on a variety of track maintenance challenges.

An earlier group of volunteers built a railing on one side of a bridge crossing the CUE Haven stream.

We asked the Fleet Partners team to finish off the bridge by installing a similar railing on the other side.

We measured the timber that would be needed.  The first challenge the team faced was that we would need to drill holes in the posts and bridge for the bolts that hold the posts in place.  We carefully measured everything and drilled the holes in the posts down in the nursery.

We then took the timber up to the site and prepared the locations for the posts.

Once the positions were determined, the bolt holes in the bridge were drilled.

Prize for bravest volunteer goes to Chris who agreed to climb under the bridge to tighten the bolts.

Once the posts were secure, the side railings were installed.  And this is the final result.

The other track job we asked the group to work on was to install a post on a railing on another section of track.  The long end of the railing was at risk of warping and needed some support.

The team cut and drilled the support post in the nursery.

And then took it up to the track and installed it.

The tight space made it a challenge to get the bolt holes lined up so that the bolts could be tightened.

But the end result is a secure and good looking railing!

The team then decided that the wedge-shaped ends of the posts might be a hazard for future visitors and took turns cutting them down with a hand saw.

Mission accomplished!

We then packed up all the gear and drove up to the top of the property so that the new volunteers could see more of the property and the entire group could see the site for the future viewing platform.  And then headed back to the cottage for a leisurely lunch.

As always, we really enjoyed working with the Fleet Partners team.  It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones as well and we’d like to thank Vivienne for organizing the volunteer day.

A HUGE thank you to everyone for their effort and hard work today.  You have all made a great contribution to CUE Haven and it was wonderful to see the way you developed creative solutions to the track issues–everyone had good ideas and showed a lot of dedication and the results are amazing–the track improvements will enable visitors to explore and enjoy the growing native forest safely and comfortably.

We hope to see all of you back at CUE Haven both for another fun and productive day and also for a relaxing visit with your friends and families to explore CUE Haven – your community native forest reserve.




T & G Global—30 November 2018

December 1, 2018

T&G Global is New Zealand’s largest and oldest fresh produce grower, distributor, marketer and exporter.  A significant amount of their community outreach work relates to healthy eating and diet, but they also provide their employees with a service day for community work.  Today ten people from the marketing group joined us for some spring maintenance work.

The group included Belinda, Ben, Brenda, Caleb, Cecilia, Janay, Jo, Louise, Michelle and Sandi.

Also joining us for the day was our friend Alan.

Over morning tea, Mahrukh gave a welcome and orientation to CUE Haven. She explained the history of the project and our plans for the future.

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

The plan for the day was to continue work on a boardwalk we have been building in the wetlands.  The job today was to work at both ends of the new section, joining up the new parts to the existing boardwalk sections.

We broke the group into two teams to work simultaneously on each section.  A few people helped out doing some potting up in the nursery and some weeding.

Alan worked with one of the teams and they tackled finishing off the last section of the walk.  It was a challenge because it involved building a sharp curve to join the sections.

The team took the time to study the situation and devise a solution.

After a lot of measuring, the first task was to cut and assemble the framework.

Once the framework was in place, it was time for the challenging task of measuring and cutting the top boards.

Once the boards were cut, they were nailed into place.

The team should be very proud of the end result! Here are the before and after pictures —

In the meantime, the second team worked with Thomas to improve a section of the boardwalk that had settled and shifted out of alignment.  It was challenging work because they had to evaluate the situation and come up with a lasting solution.

Once they came up with a preliminary strategy, the next task was to dismantle the section of the walk that had moved out of position.

They could then correct the underlying issue and reconstruct the boardwalk.

The result is a much safer and easier—and futureproof—boardwalk section.  The team should be proud of their efforts which required a lot of mental and physical challenges!

While the boardwalk teams worked away, a couple of staff assisted with some nursery work and repotted some seedlings into bigger pots.

And they also assisted with some much needed weeding around the cottage and really spruced up the place.

The enthusiastic teams insisted on working past the originally planned lunch time in order to finish off their work.  After a relaxing lunch and we took a tour of the property driving up to the top of the property and then having a leisurely walk back via the walking track.

We really enjoyed working with this team—they were enthusiastic and fun and we’d like to thank Ben for suggesting CUE Haven as a charity to support and for Michelle for organizing the volunteer day.  We hope you are the first of many T&G teams visiting us.

Our many thanks to Alan for coming along and helping out.  Your assistance and advice were most helpful.

A HUGE thank you to everyone for their effort and hard work today.  We really enjoyed meeting you and getting to know you better.  You have all made a great contribution to CUE Haven. It was wonderful to see the way you developed creative solutions to the track issues–everyone had good ideas and showed a lot of dedication and the results are amazing.  The repotted seedling will grow better, the weeding has spruced up the area and the track improvements will enable visitors to explore and enjoy the growing native forest safely and comfortably.


We hope to see all of you back at CUE Haven both for another fun and productive day and also for a relaxing visit with your friends and families to explore CUE Haven – your community native forest reserve.