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Te Rūnaka o Awarua Supports Tiwai Future

Te Rūnaka o Awarua welcomes the announcement that NZAS has secured a 20-year electricity deal enabling the Tiwai Aluminum Smelter to continue operating.

Awarua Upoko, Tā Tipene O’Regan, welcomed the news which provides certainty to the local community, and supports New Zealand’s contribution to a low carbon future.

“Since we entered into an MOU with Rio Tinto Aluminum in 2022, Awarua has been leading the partnership on behalf of Murihiku Rūnaka and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and actively engaging with NZAS on environmental remediation, cultural considerations, and future intentions. We look forward to continuing this important work with NZAS and Rio Tinto.”

“The demand response capacity Tiwai will now provide will be invaluable as New Zealand’s energy demand, and climate change, put more demand on the national grid. Ensuring stable electricity supply while reducing the need for coal-based energy is critical to New Zealand’s emission reduction efforts.”

NZAS has secured energy supply from Meridian Energy, Contact Energy and Mercury until at least 2044, giving certainty to employees and supporting New Zealand’s contribution to a low carbon future.

The 2022 agreement between Murihiku Rūnaka and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu with the New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited (NZAS) and Rio Tinto Aluminum Limited committed to jointly restoring Tiwai’s natural environment and securing the smelter’s future beyond December 2024.

All parties agreed to work together on plans to remove waste, enhance environmental monitoring, and remediate Tiwai Point, which are key priorities for mana whenua, NZAS and Rio Tinto, and of benefit to all Southlanders and indeed Aotearoa New Zealand as a whole.

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Murihiku Rūnaka hold mana whenua and mana moana over the region and therefore have kaitiaki responsibilities over Tiwai and its waters. Murihiku Rūnaka is comprised of four Papatipu Rūnanga: 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.

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

“I believed there was a long-term future for the smelter, which is so vital to our region and nation. Securing that for at least another two decades gives us all the best chance of environmental remediation that is world-class and mana-whenua informed.”

“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.

All parties believe the region now has a strong future upon which emerging industries, technologies and renewable energy sources can bring new jobs and a wide range of economic benefits.

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