NZAS recently released their latest Environmental Monitoring report, undertaken by consultants GHD.


The purpose of the GHD report and investigations was to understand discharges occurring from the smelter and to determine whether these were having an adverse effect on the ecology of the coastal marine area environment, or people using the coastal area for recreation and food gathering.


Protection of mahinga kai activities is of upmost importance to Awarua and Ngāi Tahu more broadly.  Ngāi Tahu has welcomed the partnership with NZAS on remediating the whenua (land) and coastal environment around Tiwai Point. As a result, the GHD report and investigation included testing of shellfish in the coastal marine area adjacent to the site.


A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was agreed in 2022 between Murihiku Rūnaka and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu with the New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited (NZAS) and Rio Tinto Aluminium Limited.  The parties have been working closely together over the last year to build a shared vision of remediation of the site. The Advisory Group established under the MoU works to protect both Te Ao Tūroa (natural environment) and mahinga kai activities at or near Awarua/Tiwai peninsula coastal environment. With technical support from a joint Remediation Working Group, site specific remediation criteria have been co-designed with NZAS and Rio Tinto.  A plan for the remediation of the onsite drain network is currently under development.


We welcome the increased opportunity to be involved with remediation planning and implementation at the site and ensuring that these align with Awarua and Ngai Tahu values.


AWG are really pleased with the progress made in developing a partnership with NZAS to remediate the site.  The first remediation plan we are co-designing is for the drain network.  The GHD report confirms we have selected the right focus area and we are looking forward to continuing this important mahi.

Murihiku Regeneration is currently working with Rio Tinto around the future operation of the site and have also released an update on this report, which can be found here.


Rio Tinto, operator and majority owner of the Tiwai aluminium smelter, and New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited (NZAS) have announced the establishment of a $2 Million Community Development Fund, supporting investment in community development and infrastructure projects in Southland.

The Fund meets a commitment made when Murihiku Rūnaka and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, NZAS and Rio Tinto signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in October 2022. The MOU outlined an enduring partnership between Mana Whenua and the smelter, based on three key pillars - remediation, energy development and community investment.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Chris Blenkiron, Chief Executive NZAS said:

“The commitment we have made today will support investment in a positive and sustainable future for mana whenua and the Southland region. The Community Development Fund will support new community infrastructure, enhanced social and environmental outcomes, and a strong, sustainable regional economy.

“Rio Tinto and NZAS are proud of the contribution we have made to Southland over the past 50 years. We want to increase this effort, support local projects, and be part of an even stronger future for the region” Mr Blenkiron said. 

The Community Development Fund will be administered jointly by Rio Tinto and Murihiku Rūnaka representatives. 

The Fund will support projects within four focus areas that reflect the priorities of Rio Tinto, Ngāi Tahu, and the wider community:

Rio Tinto will make $2 million available to the Community Development Fund through to the end of 2024, and intends to extend the operation of the Fund beyond 2024 in the event a long term future for the smelter can be secured.

Applications are open to all organisations in Southland, that meet Fund criteria.

Application guidelines and forms can be found at http://www.nzas.co.nz/pages/community-support-partnerships/, or enquiries can be made to community.fund@riotinto.com.


The Tiwai Advisory Group has established a Remediation Advisory Working Group (RAWG) to work together on restoring the whenua (land) at the Tiwai Peninsula.

The Advisory Group has agreed the shared goal for progressive remediation is to protect Te Ao Tūroa (natural environment), and mahinga kai (food gathering) practices and principles, and whānau undertaking them,; at or near Awarua/Tiwai peninsula coastal environment.

The Advisory Group agrees that through collaboration we will achieve our goals “Mā whero, mā pango, ka oti ai te mahi”.

The Remediation Advisory Working Group (RAWG) includes four representatives from Awarua Rūnaka / Ngāi Tahu and three representatives from NZAS who will work together to progress this important mahi.

The initial scope of work for the Remediation Working Group includes the following:

 Work together on the consent requirements for the existing landfill, with the initial focus on seeking reuse and recycling options for material in the landfill to align with our waste philosophy of reduce, reuse and recycle

 Co-design and work together to define the standard and criteria for progressive remediation and develop the remediation plan for the first area of land to be remediated

 Work together to develop the remediation plan for the drain network and assess options for future open drain design


New Agreement in place with the Rio Tinto/ New Zealand Aluminium Smelter through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

An agreement has been reached by Murihiku Rūnaka and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu with the New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited (NZAS) and Rio Tinto Aluminum Limited to work together on restoring the whenua (land) at the Tiwai Peninsula and the future of the Tiwai aluminium smelter beyond December 2024. 

The agreement was signed on Friday, 30 September at Te Rau Aroha Marae at Motupōhue (Bluff) by representatives from Murihiku Rūnaka and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

All parties agreed to work together on plans to remove waste, conduct environmental monitoring, and remediate the Tiwai Point site, which is a key priority for mana whenua, NZAS and Rio Tinto.  

The Awarua Working Group (AWG) see this as a first step to the effective remediation of Tiwai.

Image caption: Representatives from Murihiku Rūnaka and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu sign the agreement.

Seated L-R: Michael Stevens (Te Rūnanga o Awarua Alt Rep); Rewi Davis (Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka Rep); Cyril Gilroy (Chair Waihōpai Rūnaka); Terry Nicholas (Hokonui Rūnanga Rep); Riki Dallas (Kaihautū - General Manager Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka); Dean Whaanga (Kaiwhakahaere Awarua Rūnaka)

Standing L-R: Albert Brantley (Advisor to parties); Megan Reid (Project Manager for Awarua Working Group); Gail Thomson (Te Rūnanga o Awarua Rep); Nicole Atherton (Rio Tinto General Manager Closure Readiness)

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