As with any major shock, the initial closure announcement by the New Zealand Aluminium Smelter (NZAS) caused some angst in our community. Given ongoing uncertainty around the future of NZAS, the just transition process has given us an opportunity to reflect on our strengths and ambitions, and where we want to go as a region and country.
The fate of NZAS is a decision for the smelter’s owners, Rio Tinto. But we are not content to leave our region’s future in the hands of others. As regional leaders, we have partnered with central government to ensure our region is ready to secure its own future prosperity.
This work plan is the first step in ensuring Murihiku can manage the impacts of the planned closure while making sure our response doesn’t leave anyone behind. Though we are proud to have been part of developing the work plan, this document is one step in an ongoing process. As this plan makes clear, we have lots of work to do. We’ve identified the direction of travel; now we need to work together to deliver outcomes.
Aimee Kaio & Neil McAra
Co-Chairs of the Southland Just Transition