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New Agreement With Mana Whenua Marks A Positive Step Towards A Future For Tiwai Smelter

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 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.

NZAS Chief Executive Chris Blenkiron said “We’re proud to be working alongside Murihiku Rūnaka and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu in continuing this important mahi. Their guidance will be invaluable as we progressively remediate the site.”

“This agreement reinforces the commitments we’ve made to remove waste and remediate the site, irrespective of the smelter’s future,” he said.

Murihiku Rūnaka hold mana whenua and mana moana over the region and are kaitiaki (guardians) over the whenua and moana. Murihiku Rūnaka is comprised of four Papatipu Rūnanga including Te Rūnaka o Awarua, Waihōpai Rūnaka, Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka and Hokonui Rūnanga.

Te Rūnaka o Awarua is leading the partnership on behalf of Murihiku Rūnaka and will actively engage with NZAS and all parties around remediation, cultural considerations, and future intentions.

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Upoko o Te Rūnaka o Awarua Tā Tipene O’Regan has advocated for this partnership and is pleased to reach this milestone.

“I have always believed there is a future for this land. Now we can engage in responsible environmental management and look at a long-term future for Tiwai.”

“It is important to note that while the remediation issue is led by Te Rūnaka o Awarua, it is also supported by other Rūnaka within Murihiku,” he said.

The agreement is a commitment by the iwi to share mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and kōrero tuku iho (history and traditions) relative to Tiwai to support Rio Tinto to responsibly manage the environment as the future of the smelter is determined.

Rio Tinto Aluminium Chief Executive Ivan Vella said “NZAS produces some of the lowest carbon, highest purity aluminium in the world. We are working hard to secure a longer future for NZAS so it can continue supporting global decarbonisation, and we must make sure its environmental performance matches these objectives.”

“Rio Tinto is working to improve our relationship with mana whenua and to do this in a way that recognises their kaitiaki responsibilities. This partnership demonstrates how we intend to operate in Aotearoa going forward,” he said.

All parties believe the region has a strong future with a range of potential new industries, technologies and renewable energy bringing new jobs and a wide range of economic benefits.


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