TWO MILLION DOLLAR SOUTHLAND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FUND LAUNCHED
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:
Enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and health and wellbeing outcomes across the community.
Inter-generational culture, heritage, conservation, and environmental outcomes.
Unlocking human potential and community resilience through education, science and innovation, and workforce development.
Contributing to the region’s economic development and climate transition by supporting businesses to expand and new industries to emerge.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.