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Thames Hospital staff do their bit for te taiao (the environment). Photo SUPPLIED/KATERINA QUAX

Hospital staff scrub in with Hauraki rangers

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 May 21 for a day of team building, planting more than 100 trees and providing the impetus for a new section of the Kahikatea track to be constructed.
The day also acted as an opportunity to engage the Healthy Nature Healthy People initiative, DOC community ranger Maree Limpus said.
“This initiative embraces the fact that 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,” she said.
“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. They then headed out into nature with one of DOC’s rangers.
The tree planting work made a small but important contribution to the management of the track and the wider valley, Maree said, and the hospital team’s collective effort meant children and other walkers were 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, said 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.”
The feedback from the hospital staff at the end of the day was very positive, she said.
“Everyone loved the day spent in the valley,” Thames Hospital’s Janine Lee said.
“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.”