Manually Building a Tree in CakePHP

I'm currently working on building an application in CakePHP. There's a quite extensive existing data set that's conceptually a tree, but wasn't previously stored as one. What I mean by that, is there's no real relationship defined in the data.

The problem I'm having is getting it to work correctly with the CakePHP tree behaviour. Because I have to set all the values on existing data - as opposed to Cake setting up the structure as elements are inserted - I need to understand how the lft/rght values work.

So, I guess the question is:

How does the structure data work, specifically the lft/rght values? How do I set it up so that the data comes out rationally, without inserting them one at a time? It's a 2 level tree, with Sections and sub-sections.

Thanks for the help