Walking New Zealand

Thames Hospital staff scrub in with Hauraki rangers

- By Maree Limpus, Community Ranger Department of Conservati­on

In a break from their busy routines of looking after patients, 13 medical staff from Thames Hospital recently spent some time caring for nature.

They visited the Kauaeranga Visitor Centre on 21 May for a day of team building, planting over 100 trees and providing the impetus for a new section of the Kahikatea track to be constructe­d.

Our Hauraki staff were excited when the hospital team enquired about the team building day, as it provided a great opportunit­y to engage the Healthy Nature Health People initiative.

“This initiative embraces the fact connecting with nature has been shown to improve concentrat­ion, emotional functionin­g as well as buffering against stress, lowering cortisol levels (flight or fight response) and improve the immune system,” Maree says.

“It significan­tly improves mood, enhances wellbeing and provides greater life satisfacti­on. With the tough year health sector employees have had this was the perfect opportunit­y to work together for the benefit of all.”

The day for the hospital team started in the Kauaeranga Visitor Centre where they did some strategic planning in the peaceful surroundin­gs. They then headed out into nature with one of our rangers to consider the diversity and the parallels which can be drawn between well-functionin­g teams and forests.

While enjoying the short Kahikatea track, there was time for the hospital staff to reflect on the diversity and their personal values – later shared as part of developing camaraderi­e, an important aspect of effective teamwork and a thriving community. The group also had the opportunit­y to stop and soak up the sights and song of the tūī swooping through the kahikatea trees and hear about some of the other wildlife interactio­ns occurring in Coromandel’s forests.

The tree planting work made a small but important contributi­on to the management of the track and the wider valley, and the hospital team’s collective effort means children and other walkers are now diverted onto a new section of track complete with historic artefacts along its edge – avoiding having to use a stretch of road.

Heritage and visitors ranger Yvette Yule, who led the hospital staff in their planting and mulching activity, says she was impressed by how fast and effectivel­y they worked.

“I was blown away by how much work they got through in such a short period of time and it was great working with such interested and

enthusiast­ic people,” Yvette says.

The feedback from the hospital staff at the end of the day was very positive with people appreciati­ng their time in the peaceful and rejuvenati­ng environmen­t and Te Papa Atawhai staff were buzzing with what can be achieved for all when people work together in partnershi­p.

“Everyone loved the day spent in the valley,” says Thames Hospital’s Janine Lee.

“The surroundin­gs were conducive to our agenda, and the beauty and privacy provided the perfect backdrop to our day. We are still buzzing about the planting we accomplish­ed and we look forward to returning to see the results. We’re very grateful to DOC for the use of their facilities and to Maree for her input, and for our department we now have a clear picture of how to improve our service.”

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 ??  ?? Below left: The group who worked in the Hauraki ranges.
Below left: The group who worked in the Hauraki ranges.
 ?? Russell Street Photo by ?? Above left: The Kauaeranga River in Coromandel Forest Park.
Russell Street Photo by Above left: The Kauaeranga River in Coromandel Forest Park.

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