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Community Planting Day—23 June 2019

June 23, 2019

We finished up our 2019 planting season on a high note with an extra special planting day.

Valentina and Ben have been CUE Haven supporters and today they brought a group of their friends out to help plant some trees.  The very enthusiastic group arrived at around nine and included Ben, Brooklyn, Caroline, Emily, Gary, Grace, Greg, Jaime, Kade, Kyra, Laetitia, Molly, Natascha, Rachel, Sloan and Valentina.  Hansa, who has been volunteering regularly at CUE Haven also joined us for the day.

Mahrukh gave a welcome and an introduction to the CUE Haven project and Thomas gave a description of the work planned for the day and a safety briefing.

The plan for the day was to do some infill planting of kowhai, kohekohe, taraire and totara as well as some cabbage trees.

We took a short walk up to the planting site.  The weather forecast did not include rain but as soon as we headed out, a light shower started, but fortunately didn’t last long.

Once we were all on site, Thomas gave a planting demo and reminded the group of safety issues.

The group then went to work.

The planting required a lot of teamwork!

The area was a bit slippery after the rains but despite the challenges they were right at home in the bush!

In no time, the group managed to plant all the trees we had for them and it was time to get cleaned up.

They collected all the pots, trays and other gear and brought it back to the main road.

And got cleaned up in order to enjoy a nice snack.

We then drove the group up to the top of the property so they could enjoy the views and see where the viewing platforms will be built.

Several of the group walked back down via the main walking track and got a chance to see a bit more of the property.

It was a nice way to wrap up a fun and productive planting day.

Our many thanks to Hansa for once again giving up her weekend and coming out to help and straighten up the nursery.

And our heartfelt thanks also to Valentina and Ben for organizing the day and for their ongoing support of our efforts at CUE Haven and sponsoring the plants today.

And a BIG thank you to everyone who came along to help out today.  We really enjoyed meeting you all and spending time with you.  We appreciate all your hard work–the trees you planted will live for many, many years. You all have made a major contribution not only to CUE Haven and the community, but also to the planet.  We hope you will keep coming back to see how your trees are growing and to enjoy your CUE Haven forest reserve.

Thank You!! Thank You!!



SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies—12 June 2019

June 13, 2019
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The School for Field Studies (SFS) is a US-based global organisation that provides students with overseas study opportunities in a variety of ecological settings. The SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies, based in Australia, features a programme of study that includes a visit to New Zealand where students can learn about New Zealand’s temperate rain forests.

Since 2014, the students’ New Zealand trip has included a visit to CUE Haven.  The group arrived just before lunch and included students Alexander, Ally, Alyssa, Ashley M., Ashley R, Ayla, Bethany, Chelsea, Claire, Damon, Devon, Emily, Gianna, Grace, Hannah Mi., Hannah Mo., Hillary, Juliana D., Katie, Kimmi, Michael, Nicolas, Nishi, Railey, Rosie and Stephanie.

The group was led by Centre Director Amanda Freeman, Professor of Rainforest Studies Sigrid Heise-Pavloc and staff members Erin De Luca and Michael Kowalski.

We started off by getting acquainted over morning tea. Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and some background information about ecological restoration.

Thomas described the work the students would be doing during their stay and also gave a safety briefing.

The plan for the day was to do some planting in an area of the property that had previously been too wet for planting.  As a result of our planting work upstream, the ground has dried out and become a nice habitat for pukatea and kahikatea – the only two native canopy trees that grow in the wetlands as they have buttressed roots.  In addition to the planting work, the students also helped do some weed control and trimming of vegetation growing over the walking tracks and pruned trees in the orchard.

The work gave the students an opportunity to see a lot of the property and observe a number of characteristics of New Zealand forests and to also learn a little more about environmental restoration.

Because the students have been visiting a number of forested sites around the North Island, we asked them to clean and spray their boots before heading into the field to prevent the spread of the pathogen that is killing the native kauri trees.

Because of the size of the group we broke into two teams.  The first team, made up of about two thirds of the participants started out by doing the planting.

The plants were already on site and we took the short walk to the site.  On the walk,  Thomas explained the geography and features of the property and the wetlands and explained some of the challenges restoring the property and rehabilitating the wetlands.

Once on site, Sigrid and Erin supervised the planting team as they all worked.

In just a couple of hours, the team managed to plant all the trees we had for them.  The area will turn into a beautiful grove of forest giants that will live for hundreds of years.

While the planting team was busy, the other smaller team worked on a variety of weed and vegetation control tasks.

There is an invasive weed called pampas which had taken over in the area where we had a major land slip in August 2016.  Aside from being a seed source for further infestation, the pampas crowds out natives and prevents self seeding of native plants.  The only solution is to cut off the seed heads and chop out as much of the plant as possible, but you also have to be careful because there may be desirable plants like flaxes and cabbage trees mixed in with the pampas.  Another challenge is that pampas fights back—it has sharp edged leaves that can scratch unless you wear gloves and long sleeves.

The team headed by Amanda and Michael took up the challenge and went to work and cleared the entire area of pampas.

In spite of all the challenges, the team kept smiling and managed to clear the entire area of pampas.  We will spray the remaining bits and replant the area with native trees next year.

Another challenging job was to clear away a tree which had fallen across the walking track.  Last week we had a wind storm which brought down a few branches, but the biggest issue was a mature kanuka which was blocking the track.

It was a job that required strength and care because you have to study the way the branches have fallen and anticipate which way they will move when they are cut.  Thomas worked with Nick sawing and chopping the sections with help from some of the other team members too.

It was a huge effort, but the walking track is now safe for visitors.

The team also pruned the fruit trees in the orchard.  Each autumn and winter the trees need to be cut back to improve the fruit yield.

While the smaller team worked in the orchard and clearing the fallen tree, after lunch the planting group went up to the top of the property and worked their way down trimming trees along the track until they finally met up with the smaller team who were working their way up after clearing the fallen tree.

It was a short visit but the group accomplished an amazing amount of work.   We were very impressed with the enthusiastic group who were very keen to learn and worked really hard to accomplish all the tasks.

Our thanks to Amanda Freeman, SFS Centre Director, for once again arranging the visit.  We really enjoy having the SFS students and staff at CUE Haven and value our relationship and do so appreciate your continued support.

And also many thanks to SFS staff Sigrid, Erin and Michael for their help on site and ensuring things went smoothly.

And a very BIG THANK YOU to all the students.  It was great meeting all of you and working with you. We were very impressed by your enthusiasm, motivation and interest in CUE Haven and in NZ native flora and fauna.

You have all made a major contribution not only to the CUE Haven restoration project but also to our planet. The pampas eradication will allow more native trees to get established and trimming back the overgrowing vegetation will ensure that the trees flower and fruit more next season. Plus visitors will be able to explore the area more comfortably.  The canopy trees will create a long living sustainable habitat and provide food and shelter for a variety of plant and bird life over the years. And also provide educational opportunities and enjoyment to generations of visitors.  What a fantastic legacy!! Thank you!

We wish you all good luck and much success and happiness in your future endeavours.  We do hope you will keep in touch and come back to visit us at CUE Haven and enjoy your community native forest reserve you have helped create.

Thank you!!  Thank you!!


Overseas Chinese Association–8 June 2019

June 9, 2019

Today our good friends from the NZ Chapter of the Overseas Chinese Association combined a day of planting and maintenance with their annual Dragon Boat Festival.  The OCA have been coming to CUE Haven to plant and celebrate since 2014 and their visit has become one of the highlights of the CUE Haven calendar.   We were also joined by our supporters from the ANZ Asian Business banking division, many of whom volunteered at CUE Haven over the years, and our community volunteers Hansa and Yazdy.  It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

The Overseas Chinese Association group members included Adonis, Amy C., Amy T., Benjamin, Chen Hua,  Chen Huei, Cheng Ya, Christina, Christine, Edward, Elaine, Fei Cheng, George, Grace, Grace, Heidi, Howard, Hsin, Ifsen, Jack, Jenny, Jo , Joseph, Josephine, Julia, Laura, Leah, Lily, Maggie, Michael, Power, Simon, Tai Hsin, Tai Long, and Tyrone.

The ANZ team included Cassandra, Dennis, Jackie, Kelly, Lily, Lin, Oscar, Sheldon and Winnie.

Hansa and Yazdy arrived early morning to help us get everything set up and when the group arrived, we started out with a leisurely morning tea to give everyone a chance to get acquainted.

Mahrukh formally welcomed everyone and gave an update on the latest developments at CUE Haven.

Adonis, president of the OCA, also gave a welcome.

Thomas then 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 2012 and to also trim away some of the vegetation that has grown over the walking tracks.

The trimming team went with Yazdy to the wetlands where they would be doing most of their work.

They then moved along the track, trimming as they went.

It was a challenging job to trim back the wharakeke properly, but the group managed to finish off the entire boardwalk and move up to the walking track.

The trimming team got a lot of work done and when they finished off, they went for a short walk to see more of the property.

In the meantime, the planting team was also busy.  The first task was to get up to the work site.  The trimming group could walk to their site, but the planters were working near the top of the property and Thomas drove up them up in two groups.  The weather forecast was for wind and showers and it looked like rain was coming when we got up to the site, but fortunately the wind blew all the rain away!

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

The area where we planted today had originally been planted in 2012.  The pioneer trees have grown up and created the right environment to plant long-lived canopy trees and today the group planted totara, kohekohe, taraire and some cabbage trees.  They also planted rows of dianella nigra along the entrance to the walking track.  The plants will grow up to form a nice border with lovely dark blue flowers.

In a little over an hour, the team managed to plant all of the trees we had planned for them today—a great job!  We then took a leisurely walk back to the cottage to give the group a chance to enjoy more of the property.

While the teams were working in the field, another group stayed back to prepare the special Dragon Boat Festival lunch comprising various soups and sticky rice dumplings and salads.

It was a delicious feast which everyone thoroughly enjoyed!

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.  Although it was windy, the rain which kept threatening never bothered us.

A very big thank to OCA President, Adonis for organising the visit and catering the lunch. And also many thanks to Lily for once again bringing her ANZ colleagues along to help out for the day.

And a special BIG THANK YOU to everyone who gave up their Saturday to help out today – the OCA members, ANZ staff, and all accompanying family and friends and our community volunteers who came today.  We very much appreciate your friendship, your enthusiasm and hard work and your continued support of CUE Haven.

You have all made a major contribution not only to CUE Haven but also to the community and our planet. Clearing the overgrown vegetation will encourage new growth in the trees and make it easier for visitors to walk on the boardwalk and walking tracks.  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.

Our heartfelt thanks to every one of you!!   And we very much look forward to having you visit again soon.

Thank You!!  Thank You!!



Westlake Boys High School—4 & 5 June 2019

June 5, 2019

Westlake Boys High School on Auckland’s North Shore is one of New Zealand’s largest schools and for the past few years, Westlake Boys students have been visiting CUE Haven both to help out with our restoration project and to supplement their classroom work with field studies.

Again this year, Year 11 geography students are studying the Kaipara Harbour and how human activity affects it.  To help the students gain a better appreciation of the extent of the harbour and the activities taking place in the area, the head of the geography department, Andrew Clarke, organized a field trip to the Kaipara for the students.

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 took turns visiting two venues–our neighbours at Mataia and CUE Haven.  The students also did a boat cruise on the Kaipara.  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 145 students accompanied by teachers Amy, Andrew, Brad, Claire, Elliot and Hannah.

The weather on the first day was perfect, but on day two, the students had to contend with rain and high winds.  As a result we shortened the walk on the second day.

Mataia, is a very large family owned beef and sheep farm and also a site for ecotourism with protected native bush where Northland brown kiwi habitat.  The students had the opportunity here to learn about sustainable farming practices, riparian planting and native bush protection.

At CUE Haven we talked about and showed the students the restoration work and the effects of the restoration over the years.

Mahrukh started each session with some background information on CUE Haven and talked briefly about how the planting had affected water quality, erosion and land stability.  On the first day we could give the talk outside but had to move inside on the second day.

Thomas gave a safety briefing and took the students for a walk around the property to show them some specific examples of how the restoration project had affected the land and how it was affecting our 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.

The students walked to the area where the slip occurred in 2016 so the students could see the cause and effect of the slip and how remedial plantings were now helping to stabilize the land.

The students then had a look at where the CUE Haven stream flows into the wetlands and learned about how planting had affected the water flows from the top of the property, making the stream less flood prone and also how the health of the wetlands had improved due to less flooding and erosion.

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

On the first day the students had a chance to visit a place on the CUE Haven stream to see evidence of some of the earliest land use by humans in the area.  Early Maori settlers created pools in the bed rock along the stream to store fish in summer when the stream level is low.

Thanks to the restoration efforts, the stream is once again healthy and thriving with kokopu, inanga, koura and many macroinvertebrates. The students also got a chance to see and hear some of the bird life that is returning to CUE Haven.

Once 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.

We finished off with a walk through the wetlands so the students could see how planting improved water quality and reduced runoff and sediment.

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 have always hoped that CUE Haven will become an environmental education resource for the community and we are very happy to have schools like Westlake Boys use the space for learning.

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 sorting all the complicated transportation requirements!

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

Lastly, many thanks to the students for their time and attention.  The weather on the second day made things a little messy and challenging but everyone coped well 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.

Fonterra—28 May 2019

May 29, 2019

Fonterra, one of the world’s largest dairy companies, is taking a very proactive approach to environmental remediation of the impact of dairying.  They lead initiatives to fence wetlands, do riparian planting and improve farm environmental planning and practices.  When CUE Haven was a dairy farm, it was part of the Fonterra co-op.

Fonterra staff at all levels are also involved in helping out in the community and with environmental projects and we are very happy to have Fonterra’s support with our restoration efforts.  Today we had a team of Fonterra staff from the Logistics group out to assist with planting canopy trees.

The group arrived at about 8:30 and included Bendito, Dennis, Joy, Kathy, Parmod, Rebekah, Rekha, Sophie, Vardeep and Yasith.

We spent some time getting acquainted over morning tea and then Mahrukh gave a short talk about the history of CUE Haven and plans for the future.

Thomas then talked about the work planned for the day and gave a safety briefing.

The weather forecast was not at all promising.  It had rained overnight and the forecast was for more rain and thunder all morning.  It rained during morning tea but as we went to work the sun came out.

Today’s planting was special in that it involved not only infill planting of canopy seedlings, but we also planted ten much larger trees on behalf of a supporter who is establishing a grove of memorial trees for her family.

We drove up to the planting site where Thomas gave a planting demo and a safety reminder and the team went to work.

Sometimes it was a challenge to find a good spot to plant amongst the thick pioneer plantings, but the group wasn’t afraid to go deep into the bush to find good spots.

After a few hours of hard work, the team managed to plant all of the trees we had allocated for them.  Well done!!

Just prior to lunch, Pat, one of CUE Haven’s much valued donors and supporters arrived.  Pat is establishing a grove of rimu, miro, matai, taraire and puriri trees in memory of her departed loved ones. All team members helped plant these trees which are much bigger in size.  It is thanks to the generosity and support of donors that we are able to purchase the canopy trees and get the native forest giants established faster. Thank you Pat for your continued support!!

The group then brought back all the empty crates and pots and loaded them in the ute and we all took a leisurely walk back to the cottage.

We then relaxed and socialized over a late lunch.

It was a very enjoyable and productive day and the hard working and enthusiastic team managed to get done with all the planting we hoped they would do.

A special thanks to Kelly for organizing the team visit today and for handling all the logistics. Kelly could not join the team today but we very much look forward to having you out with your other colleagues soon.

And a HUGE thank you to everyone on the team.  We so enjoyed meeting you all and working with you and getting to know you.  We hope that you enjoyed the day as much as we did.  We really appreciate your hard work and also helping out with Pat’s plantings.

We hope you will come back often over the years to see how the trees you planted today are growing up.  And we look forward to having you back next year for another fun and productive volunteer day.

You have all made a significant contribution to  your community native reserve – CUE Haven, and our planet.  The long living canopy trees you planted today will be home to native birds and animals, and will also be enjoyed by many generations of visitors to CUE Haven. What a lasting legacy!

Thank You!! Thank You!!

AUT Business Students—26 May 2019

May 27, 2019
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As part of their study, business students at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) are expected to participate in community service where they can observe, learn, participate and have discussions about sustainability.  We have had AUT business students participate in community activities at CUE Haven in prior years and were very happy once again that two students, Brandon and Lauri, chose to do their service hours at CUE Haven this year.

We invited Brandon and Lauri to join us for a big planting day we were having with the St. Peters College students.

Brandon and Lauri arrived early and helped Thomas with the final preparations for the planting day and then spent a good part of the day working with the students, planting and helping out.

They also joined the students for a walk to explore more of the property and learn more about the restoration project and how it had positively impacted land use and water quality.

After the students left, they helped Thomas clean up and take up plants for the next planting team who will be coming this week.

We also had a great discussion about their studies and shared some of the ideas we have seen and heard about sustainable development and a growth economy.

We want to congratulate AUT for encouraging students to get field experience in the community, and learning about sustainability and sustainable business practices.

And we want to thank Lauri and Brandon for being interested in the work we are doing at CUE Haven and giving up a Sunday to help us out.  We were impressed with your enthusiasm and interest in the project and very much enjoyed meeting and working with you both.

With your tree planting efforts today you have made a significant contribution not only to the CUE Haven project but also to our environment and the wider community  We wish both of you much success and happiness in your future endeavours and hope you will come back to see how the trees you planted today are growing up!

Thank you!!

St. Peters College—26 May 2019

May 27, 2019

St Peter’s College in Auckland is a secondary school for boys and it’s mission is to “educate the whole person in an environment of Christian love and service.”  The school has a strong commitment to community service.

In July a group of St. Peters science students will be travelling to the US where they will visit New York and Cape Canaveral in Florida and attend a NASA astronaut training program.

In order to help raise funds to cover some of the cost of the trip and to help offset the carbon footprint of the trip, the students decided to get family and friends to sponsor trees that would then be planted at CUE Haven.  We did a similar fund raiser for a St. Peter’s Classics trip to Greece and Italy in 2017 and we were very happy to help out and the CUE Haven Community Trust once again donated the trees which the students planted today.

The group arrived by 9:30 and included St. Peter’s students Andrew, Connor, Hunter, Jacob, Kahu, Matthew, Max, Nathan, Noah, Oliver, Reon, Rory, Thomas and Toby  Also accompanying them were family and friends Angela, Anna, Glenys, Ivan, Jason, John, Karl, Leane, Mark, Patrick, Peter, Pip, Thomas and Assistant Headmaster Guru Kumar and science teacher Uji Galappaththege.

We got acquainted over morning tea and then Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and Thomas gave a description of the planned work and a safety briefing.

The plan for the day was to do infill planting in an area that had previously been planted in 2010.  In addition to mahoe and cabbage trees, we planted long lived forest giants such as totara and taraire.

Because of the size of the group, we drove them up to the planting site in groups.  When everyone was on site, Thomas did a planting demo and a safety reminder and the group broke into teams and went to work.

The weather was perfect for planting and group quickly spread out over the large area to find good spots to plant their trees.

They weren’t afraid to get deep into the bush to find good planting spots.

As the groups finished off an area, they moved down to the next.

Once they finished planting, the groups collected all the trays, pots, spades and bags and brought them back up to the ute.

The group accomplished an amazing amount of planting in just a couple of hours.  We then took a leisurely walk back to the cottage which gave everyone a chance to see more of the property and to learn a little about the CUE Haven restoration project.

We then had a relaxing lunch and spent some time socializing before the group headed back to town.

We want to thank Guru for organizing and coordinating the logistics for the day—and for helping out with the photography!  It was a pleasure working with the St. Peters students and we’re glad CUE Haven could provide them with this fund raising opportunity.

We would also like to acknowledge the people who helped the students with their fundraising efforts. We look forward to having you all visit CUE Haven to see the native community reserve where the trees you sponsored have been planted.

A big thank you to all the hard working students and their families and friends and the teachers for giving up a Sunday and planting the trees.  We very much enjoyed meeting you all and working with you.

You all accomplished an amazing amount of work and have made a significant contribution not only to CUE Haven but to our environment and the wider community.  The trees you planted will create a long living sustainable habitat and provide food and shelter for a variety of plant and bird life over the years. And also provide educational opportunities and enjoyment to generations of visitors.  What a fantastic legacy!!

We hope you have a fun, fantastic and safe trip to the US.  We wish you all the very best with your future endeavours and look forward to having you visit CUE Haven with your families and friends often over the years to explore the community native forest you have helped established.

Thank you!!