Key members of the Southland community met yesterday with Labour’s Energy and Resources Minister, Dr Megan Woods, to share the vision of working together to actively shape the future of Southland with the uncertainty of Tiwai’s Aluminium Smelter’s longevity.
The Southland Just Transition work plan has seen iwi, businesses, education, and community leaders come together to ensure Southland’s future is positive and shoulders the uncertainty of Tiwai.
Yesterday’s meeting felt celebratory, and Minister Woods congratulated the Enduring Oversight Group (EOG) and Just Transition work stream leads on the journey undertaken so far.
“I’m so impressed by the way Southland is working together. We’ve got education, businesses, local government, unions and iwi who are all united in wanting to find what that secure economic future looks like for Southland,” Minister Woods said.
Southland Just Transition is made up of seven work streams led by community leaders. These streams include Long Term Planning, Clean Energy, Worker Transition, Business Transition, Land Use, Community Capability Building and Aquaculture.
With or without Tiwai, the group’s agenda is to secure the future of the region, to keep it buoyant, introduce more skilled jobs, lower carbon, diversify land and water use, and look to productive clean energy usage.
Minister Woods went as far as to reference ‘Team Southland’ and the positive relationships and collaborations were fundamental to the forward momentum, citing there was opportunity to be world leaders in some of the new and extended industries the teams are working on.
Minister Woods also thanked the Enduring Oversight Group (EOG), which operates as governance over the seven work streams. The EOG is made up of 11 members from central government, local government, iwi, unions, business, and the education, agriculture and community sectors.
The purpose of the EOG is to provide strategic governance over the delivery of the Southland just transition work plan.
The EOG will provide feedback on the delivery of the work plan and guide the Secretariat and work streams in their implementation role.
Chair of the EOG, Neil McAra said there has been a successful relationship with the Minister all the way through the process and how fantastic it was having all parties on the same page as they continue to work towards the 2023 budget bid.
His comments were echoed by EOG Co Chair, Aimee Kaio.
“Southlanders have always rolled up their sleeves to get the mahi done and it‘s truly wonderful to have such support from government and it’s exciting to all be actively pushing our region forward, securing our economy and social fabric for our community,” Kaio said.