18 Apr 2021

Southland iwi meet with officials over Tiwai Point aluminium smelter clean-up for first time

2:27 pm on 18 April 2021

Southland iwi have met for the first time with officials trying to ensure the contaminated Tiwai Point aluminium smelter gets cleaned up.

Waste piled up by the main Tiwai Point aluminium smelter site earlier this year.

Photo: Supplied

A group of four rūnaka called Murihiku Regeneration have met with the Environment Ministry, regional council and Department of Conservation.

This comes seven months after the ministry began talks with the company, New Zealand Aluminium smelters that is owned by Rio Tinto.

The government called off talks with Rio Tinto last month, protesting that it had not been open with environmental monitoring data.

It's understood the inaugural meeting with Māori and officials did not get any new data.

The Murihiku collective includes Te Rūnaka o Awarua, Te Rūnaka o Waihōpai, Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka and Hokonui Rūnanga.

It put out a 238-page preliminary cultural significance report about Tiwai in January, ahead of more detailed studies.

Read the full Cultural report - Tiwai Peninsula (PDF 90.1MB)

"The smelter is sited on one of Aotearoa's most important archaeological sites in terms of understanding early Māori culture," the report said.

It was occupied within the first century after the Polynesian colonisation of New Zealand, and the primary centre for export of Bluff argillite adzes.

"One of the main stone working sites is located in the smelter landfill area."

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