October to December 2016

Tiwai Pointer

Gretta’s Christmas Message

I want to thank you all for your contribution during 2016

The sheer volume and creativity of business improvements that have been implemented by teams around site has been impressive.  We are set to deliver over NZ$33 million of improvement projects – NZ$5 million more than our target – a clear demonstration of the commitment that you all have to improving our workplace.

There have been plenty things to celebrate at NZAS in 2016:

  • The NZAS Board approved the purchase of two rectifier-transformer units to replace R21 and R24, bringing forward the overall switchyard renewal programme by a year
  • The introduction of the new Toolbox Refresh has been a success.  The goal of these toolboxes has been to ensure all team members share information needed to successfully achieve the work of the shift ahead which in turn will improve our safety and efficiency
  • The strength of the RenewAl brand continues to grow and having our metal marketed under it demonstrates that NZAS is ready to be part of a low carbon future

There have of course been events that remind us that we can still improve.  Nine recordable injuries for the year are far too many.  Safety is a fundamental value and we all need to maintain a high level of focus on the critical controls that manage fatality risks in our business.

Please stay safe during the holiday season and I hope you have some time to relax with family and friends.

Gretta Stephens
General Manager

Gretta Stephens - GM NZAS

Spreading some Christmas cheer


The NZAS Employee Activities Group is helping to spread Christmas cheer in our local community by supporting six Southland families through the Salvation Army’s ‘Adopt a Family for Christmas’ programme, giving us an opportunity to provide Christmas lunch and gifts for these families and children who are less fortunate than ourselves.

The Salvation Army Invercargill started this programme a number of years ago and has been overwhelmed with the generosity from the local community.  Last year they were able to help 140 families, including 343 children find a bit more joy at Christmas.  This year the number has increased to 160 families.

(From left) Nadine Hancock (EAG Chair) with Brenda King (Salvation Army Community Ministries Co-ordinator) & Kiri Tuhura (EAG Committee member)

NZAS turns 45

Not even horizontal rain could make the Goofy cakes soggy for our 45th birthday breakfast celebrations at the gate.  It was great to see so many braving the elements to enjoy a sausage and piece of birthday cake on their way in or on their way home from work.

Operations at NZAS began in April 1971.  After the first alumina shipment arrived on board the Shinyo Maru on 22 April 1971, the first cells went into operation the following day.  It was a time of considerable pride when production started less than two years after the start of construction.

NZAS’ official opening was not held until 30 November of that year.  A dinner was held for 234 guests on 29 November in Invercargill.  It was a night for speeches and acknowledgement of achievements.  The second stage of the opening occurred the following morning on site with more than 250 guests attending.  The rain fell and the wind blew - a not untypical day for Tiwai Point!

Fast forward 45 years – and the immense pride that was felt in 1971 still remains in 2016. 

Gretta Stephens says, “I would like to thank everyone at NZAS for your continued support.  It is often said that 'people make the place' and this is certainly a true reflection of our team.“

Business Improvement Roundup: 2016

NZAS Cumulative improvement value

Throughout 2016 NZAS has continued to focus on delivering rapid, significant and sustainable business improvement results.  During the 2015 planning process, the highest benefit, lowest effort projects were identified, and we planned to save NZ$28 million in 2016.  Despite this very aspirational target we

actually exceeded on own expectations and are forecast to deliver NZ$33.3 million of run rate value in 2016. 

These savings come from more than 80 individual projects and groups of projects which have been delivered and supported by everyone at the smelter.  Some of the larger projects that have contributed to this saving are the Reduction 5000t cluster, magnetic stirrers on Y and Z furnaces, ingot scheduling in the casthouse, VDC throughput increase, improving UHP capture, and the Works Feeder cluster. 

Since 2012, NZAS has consistently delivered more than NZ$30 million each year in Business Improvement value.  It is the positive mind set and determination of everyone at the smelter that makes these fantastic results possible, truly pure kiwi mettle in action.  Well done team.


Noun: mettle

a person's ability to cope well with difficulties; spirit and resilience.

"the team showed their true mettle in the second half"

Synonyms: spirit, fortitude, tenacity, strength of character, moral fibre, steel,determination, resolve, resolution, steadfastness, indomitability, backbone, hardihood, pluck, nerve, gameness, courage, courageousness, bravery, gallantry, valour, intrepidity, fearlessness, boldness, daring, audacity

Tiwai Fire Brigade needs you!

Being a member of the Tiwai Fire Brigade is a big deal.  At a smelter you need access to a fire brigade in emergencies; at a smelter as remote as NZAS you need a fire brigade on site.

The NZAS Brigade is a critical element of NZAS’ risk management strategy.  A fire anywhere on site presents, at the very worst a risk that someone won’t go home to their loved ones and at the least  damage that could halt production, costing considerable money and threatening the smelter’s operational viability. 

Our fire-fighters are volunteers who are highly skilled professionals who also complete a considerable amount of the training required in their own time.

Each year 26 training sessions are provided for each watch where the fire-fighters undertake various disciplines to maintain their competency.  These include: Critical Skills (safety related skills), Core Skills (portable pump, ladders, breathing apparatus drills etc) and Brigade Specific type skills (working at heights and in confined spaces).

During the year the brigade attended a total of 60 emergency responses:

  • 8 medical, and
  • 2 fires - a Hot Metal Carrier caught fire in the Reduction Lines, and hot material on the conveyer belt activated the sprinkler system in the Bath Plant
  • The remainder of responses were Good Intent, Accidental, Defective Apparatus or Special Service responses

This year’s honours were particularly special for Phil Crawford, pictured with his wife Christine and Gretta Stephens, receiving his Gold Star for 25 years of service.  But add that to all the 2016 Tiwai Fire Brigade Honour Recipients and you get a combined service total of 238 years.  What an outstanding achievement!

It may seem like a lot of work but it is extremely rewarding.  The Fire Brigade is currently recruiting for new members so please contact Chief Fire Officer Ross Ferguson for more information.


NZFS Long Service & Good Conduct Medal

Qualified Fire-Fighter Daniel Roberts  

3 Year Certificate

Fire-Fighter Stanley McKay 3 Years
Fire-Fighter Justin Young 3 Years
Fire-Fighter Jami Patarana 3 Years

5 Year Medal

Fire-Fighter Simon Swain 5 Years

UFBA 2 Year Silver Bars

Qualified Fire-Fighter Nigel Cuckow 11 Years
Qualified Fire-Fighter Heath King  11 Years
Qualified Fire-Fighter Roger Lawson 11 Years
Senior Fire-Fighter Richard Moss 13 Years
Fire-Fighter Rodney Hogg 15 Years
Qualified Fire-Fighter Daniel Roberts 15 Years
Station Officer Kerry Devery 19 Years
Senior Fire-Fighter Robbie Donaldson 19 Years
Station Officer Ross Ladbrook 21 Years
Senior Fire-Fighter Sam McCreadie 23 Years

UFBA 2 Year Gold Bars

Station Officer Ngatere Strickland 27 Years
UFBA 25 Year Gold Star
Senior Fire-Fighter Philip Crawford 25 Years
(From left) Phil & Christine Crawford with Gretta Stephens

Trainers Complete their Adult Education Certificates

A morning tea was recently held at site to celebrate the nine NZAS employees who have completed their National Certificate in Adult Education.

Garry Short (Casthouse Maintenance), Jared Gorrie (Reduction Maintenance), Geoff Lewis (Casthouse Maintenance), Trevor Ballantine (Casthouse Maintenance), Cheryl Kemp (Analytical & Monitoring Services), Kirk Taylor (Green & Bake Carbon), Gary Thomson (Carbon Rodding) and Rob Green (Metal Products) each completed Level 4, while Ross Ferguson (Safety & Loss Prevention) completed Level 5.

Adult Education qualifications are essential for trainers at NZAS because they need to have skills in assessing adults who are learning new things.

Gaining the Adult Education qualification is the start of

the journey in which trainers have proven that they can maintain high standards of training for NZAS. 

Having the ability to develop the skills of others is very rewarding, but it isn’t easy, especially when trainees are also their peers.  This is why it is so important for our training team to have the knowledge and skills in place to teach their peers and fellow adults.  You can’t exactly send grown-ups to the naughty corner!

Our new graduates are now set to contribute improvement opportunities for training across site and are part of a team we trust to help develop employees at NZAS to complete tasks safely and to a high standard.

(From left) Debbie Rankin (Training), Ross Ferguson, Cheryl Kemp, Jared Gorrie, Trevor Ballantine, Garry Short, Jacqui Lyders (Competenz) & Geoff Lewis

An experience of a lifetime for a man who has given a lifeline to so many

(Left) John & Lynda Mooij (right) with Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy

You might remember our story on John Mooij earlier this year - NZAS’ very own Queen’s Service Order (QSO) recipient.

John and his wife Lynda received a QSO for their services to foster care in the Queen’s 90th Birthday honours list.  Over the past 24 years John and Lynda

have fostered more than 20 children with complex intellectual and physical needs such as Down syndrome, Autism and Foetal Alcohol syndrome.

“It has been a privilege as well as a humbling experience to get this award for something we are passionate about,” says John.

On 1 October John and Lynda travelled to Wellington to receive their medals at the Government House investiture.  They took two of their biological children who have played an enormous part in the lives of the foster children, their daughter-in-law and two of their 'forever children'.  It was “an experience of a lifetime,” says John.

After the formal ceremony they were invited to have photos taken with Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy and her husband Sir David Gascoigne.

Each member of the family was introduced to them, but one of John’s children – Zion – has a hearing problem and didn't hear Sir David’s name so when he repeated it Zion replied, “Nice to meet you David and I like your house!”

John and Lynda were also invited to have dinner at Government House with nine other honours recipients and their spouses.  John says, “It was fantastic meeting up with many interesting people of all walks of life.”

Of course the Wellington trip turned into a mini holiday for the family as well – the Mooijs visited Te Papa and Weta Workshop, with Lynda and the children even managing to squeeze in some shopping.  But the boys still think going to Government House was the best bit.

NZAS supports local high schools

Josh Burrows with proud Mum Lucinda



Each year NZAS provides end of year prizes for the senior prize giving ceremonies of several local high schools including Southland Boys’ High School, Southland Girls’ High School, James Hargest College, Verdon College and Aurora College.

We also provide computing and engineering awards to the Southern Institute of Technology.

This year Joshua Burrows, the son of our very own Lab Chemist



Lucinda Burrows, received five prizes at the Southland Boys’ High School award ceremony, two of which were NZAS’ Chemistry and Physics prizes!

Lucinda says, “For Joshua to win five prizes was a fantastic achievement, but to win the NZAS prizes was really special.  I am always proud of him, not just academically; he is just a well-rounded, caring and lovely young man.”

Joshua is looking forward to his final year at Southland Boys’ High School next year and then plans to study towards a medical degree at university.

Darren Schwass goes over the edge

Darren Schwass


Earlier this month Darren Schwass dropped off the Invercargill Fire Station tower as part of the Graeme Dingle Foundation’s ‘Drop the Boss’ event, raising much-needed funds to support youth in Southland.

While Darren wasn’t put off by the prospect of the steep descent he still made time to do a ‘Take 5’ before leaping off the tower to ensure he didn’t end up in the chalk marks (pictured).

“It was a fun trip down the tower, taking way longer to climb up than get down,” says Darren.  “I could have done with a practice run to get my mojo going – it’s been a while since I‘ve done any abseiling!”

But the main thing is that Darren reached his target of raising $1,000 for the Graeme Dingle Foundation which was a fantastic achievement.

The Foundation reaches over 1,800 local Southland school-aged students each week through their programmes - Kiwi Can and Career Navigator - teaching values and life skills that are not a part of the curriculum.

These skills also stand the kids in good stead for the rest of their lives, fostering the sort of self-esteem and confidence we all need to do well.   

New starters – October to December 2016

Welcome to:

  • Hiroyuki Matsumura - Senior Metallurgist (temporary), Metal Products
  • Jonny Ferrari - Operator, Carbon Green & Bake
  • Jamie Regan - Operator, Carbon Green & Bake
  • Callan Jarvis - Operator, Reduction
  • Cairan Samuel - Operator, Reduction
  • Jason Colley - Operator, Reduction
  • Anthony Cooper - Mechanical Tradesperson, Cell Repair
  • Ivan Plato - Operator, Reduction
  • Iona Sipa - Operator, Reduction
  • Leyton Tarrant - Electrical Tradesperson, Reliability Maintenance
  • Donna Wilson - Accounting Officer, Commercial & Support Services
  • Daryl Baldwin - Tradesperson Mechanical, Cell Repair
  • Michael Cocker - Operator, Reconstruction
  • Regan Emerson - Operator, Reduction
  • Mark Dawson - Instrument Officer, E&I Workshops
  • Javaan Fa’amoe-Ioane - Operator, Line Services

Close encounters of a Jaws kind delivers a strong safety reminder

On a recent diving trip to Wolf Island with Bruce Farmer and a group of friends, Bill Uru (Cathode & Reconstruction) had a close encounter with a group of Galapagos sharks which he is not keen to repeat.  His experience reminded him never to be complacent in a potentially hazardous situation.

“At Wolf Island in the Galapagos Islands Hammerhead sharks are abundant.  These sharks eat squid feeding about 500 metres below the surface only coming up to the shallows when they need to be cleaned by a species of cleaner fish.  The cleaner fish swim around the shark, in and out of its mouth eating sea lice and other parasites.  Swimming with these sharks is relatively safe.

The second type of shark you see in this area is the Galapagos Shark which is more like our White Pointer, eating whatever it encounters.

We saw a number of these mixed up with the Hammerheads but they didn’t seem to be that dangerous.

However, on my last diving trip to Wolf Island I saw something that really made me stop and think.

It was around 4.00 pm and our fourth and final dive for the day.  We were just finishing our dive in about five metres of water doing our safety stop when we saw a large Galapagos Shark being picked on by eight juvenile sea lions.  The sea lions were diving down and nipping on the shark’s back dorsal fins.  The shark was cruising around in the white water going out into the deep and then coming back around.  As underwater photography divers we wanted to capture amazing sight on film so all six of us went into the white water area to take photos.

Suddenly there were three large Galapagos Sharks cruising around us.  One of them looked at me and came straight for me.  I dropped lower into the rocks below and the female shark passed over me about a metre above.

I looked at the back of this shark and noticed it was substantially arched,

indicating she thought I was in her area and considered me a threat.

I noted also that the three sharks were working as a team against the sea lions as dark was approaching.

I made the decision to leave the water directly and let Bruce know I was getting out.  We both arrived at the boat without incident.

Three others of our group arrived at the boat a couple of minutes later and I asked where one of our diving buddies, Linda was.  Then I saw her she was about one metre off the boat still taking photographs underwater, you could see the flash going off.  Finally she emerged and said that the sharks had started coming in close to her and she was flashing the camera to scare them off.

These sharks were quite big about three times the size of an adult human and not at all friendly, especially as it was getting near their tea time.

I asked Linda how many sharks she had seen and she thought there were only two, but everyone else had seen three.  When we checked the video later there were definitely three.   

The lesson for all of us on this dive was that while we were engrossed in photographing the sharks we did not see that the situation was getting more dangerous as time went on and as the light faded.  The sharks where frustrated with the sea lions, so the next prey was us.  All of us had been complacent and we nearly had an incident due to this.  We were all very experienced divers and we didn’t see danger.

The experience made me think of our work environment at NZAS - if we are not 'on the ball' all the time with safety it can sneak up on us all.  I know we are all experienced and professional about our job, but let’s not allow ourselves to become complacent and get hurt."   

Rock’n’Roll is here to stay

Each year NZAS sponsors the Invercargill City Library’s Home Services Christmas party - an event hosted by the very talented library staff (aptly called the ‘Lyrical Librarians’) and some guest performers.  This year’s theme was “We love Rock’n’Roll” – a celebration of great music, fashion and fun of the rock’n’roll era. 

Home Services is a free mobile library service for people within the Invercargill City Council rating area

who find it difficult to visit the library because of age or disability.  At the end of the year they hold a party for the people who use the service  and their couriers.

Andrea Carson (Community Relations) represented NZAS at this year’s party, “The library staff put on a fantastic show each year.  The highlight for me was watching Elvis perform some of his greatest hits – local entertainer Stephen Wilcox did an awesome impersonation!” she said.

Our People

Name:            Evan Madden

Position:       Instruments Officer, E&I Workshops                          

How long have you worked at NZAS?
Eleven years

What is your favourite leisure activity?
I’m involved with NZ Cadet Forces and I’m learning to train search dogs

Where’s your favourite place visited in the world?
Vanuatu, the people are just so happy even though they have so little

What’s your favourite NZ holiday spot & why?
Okains Bay (Banks Peninsula), it’s our family New Year’s holiday spot with friends

What were your career aspirations when you were a child?
To join the RNZAF – either Air Crew or Electrical Engineering

What was your first job?
I had an after-school job as the mail boy for NZI, and then started as an electrical apprentice at the Southland Phosphate Works at Awarua

What is your favourite movie?
I still enjoy movies like “Major Payne” and “Fools Gold” - a bit of light hearted humour.  Even some animal movies like “Eight Below” or “Max”

Film crew on site

(From left) Matt Inns & Nick McGrath from SIT Productions filming in Carbon


You may have thought NZAS was the setting for a new Hollywood blockbuster when you saw the film crew on site a few weeks ago.  But don’t expect an audition anytime soon.

SIT Productions visited NZAS to shoot footage for NZAS’ new visitor safety and process DVDs.  These should be up and running by Q1 next year and will be an update to our current DVDs, ensuring that safety remains a number one priority for everyone on site.

Helping our furry friends

A huge thank you to everyone who supported this year’s SPCA Christmas Appeal. 

Every year the SPCA is very grateful to NZAS employees for providing essential supplies which help keep them going over the busy Christmas period when the SPCA is inundated with unwanted animals. 

The SPCA is solely funded by community donations, so they need as much help as we can give.  Many of us have fluffy four legged friends at home, some of which have probably come from the SPCA. 

Donations were dropped off to the shelter this week much to the delight of Richard Hay (SPCA Operations Manager) pictured with Andrea Carson (Community Relations) and a very cute kitten!

The Great Christmas Bake Off

(From left) Judges Allan 'Masterchef' Meikle, 'Judge Judy' Dunne & Kerry 'Berry' Hapuku getting ready to sample the winning creation


After last year’s successful pavlova-decorating competition, the Commercial & Support Services Department decided to turn up the heat and go all out with 'The 2016 Great Christmas Bake Off.'

This year the competition was open to pavlovas, dessert cakes and cheesecakes.  Contestants had to keep to a strict set of rules which included:

  1. A single dessert (ie not a tray of individual portions)
  2. Must be home-made (no buying from Bakers Beyond or the supermarket)
  3. Minimum diameter 25 cm
  4. Minimum height 10 cm
  5. All ingredients/garnishing/decorations must be edible
  6. No professional decorating


Independent judges, 'Judge Judy' Dunne, Kerry 'Berry' Hapuku and Allan 'Masterchef' Meikle were on hand adhering strictly to their judging criteria of:

  1. Visual impression/presentation/general appearance
  2. Neatness and precision
  3. Choice and use of colour
  4. Taste
  5. Innovation of ingredients/originality
  6. Degree of difficulty of  construction

'Judge Judy' commented, "The standard was very high and there were only a handful of points between the top four cakes.  Some of the teams had obviously gone to great effort and the tasting was very enjoyable."

But there could only be one winner on the day. The grand prize went to the Accounting Services Team with their amazing creation made up of Rocky Road cheesecake, Arsenic cake, surrounded by gingerbread and chocolate Christmas trees.

Congratulations to all participants and those lucky enough to devour the scrumptious treats – let's do it again next year!