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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