Tiwai Pointer

July to September 2017
Tiwai Pointer

NZAS wins at Southland Business Excellence Awards

NZAS won the ‘Construction, Trades, Manufacturing & Distribution Sector Award’ at the 2017 Westpac Southland Business Excellence Awards on Friday night.

Scott Westbury (Assets Manager) was delighted to accept the award on behalf of NZAS.  Reflecting on the win he said, “Sometimes when we enter awards we feel like judges just assume our achievements are easy because we are big and we have been around for a long time, whereas the reality is that the team at NZAS always works incredibly hard to increase productivity and efficiency.  We can’t control the metal price, so we control what we can and that means all of our input costs and how smart we are working.  This award is testament to the hard work and dedication that is demonstrated every day by every person on site at NZAS.”

The Southland Chamber of Commerce organise the awards to showcase the region’s business talent and capability.  The biennial awards night is an opportunity

to pay tribute to local businesses that help to build the Southland economy and community.  This year a record number of entries were received, 70 applications from 35 local businesses.

Scott Westbury is pictured addressing the audience after accepting the award.

Ten years of fostering excellence in education

Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie addressing the SGHS special senior school assembly

Southland Girls’ High School hosted a number of dignitaries at a special assembly to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the NZAS/Southland Girls’ High School education partnership.  Local MPs Sarah Dowie and Ria Bond, Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt and Labour Party candidate Liz Craig all praised the work of the partnership at the assembly.

Forty-one students have participated in the programme with almost half going on to study engineering at university.  Another four students were on site working on projects last week.

NZAS General Manager Gretta Stephens told the assembly, “I am extremely proud to be one of the women engineers at NZAS who demonstrate every year to the young women of this school, and there have been over forty so far, that you can be engineers, you can be scientists – and you can lead in steel cap boots and high vis clothes.” 

Gretta also said that while this partnership focusses on the professional careers, it isn’t everyone’s dream to go to university.  “If you are a practical person who wants to work with your hands and your mind, solving problems in a team environment, then you would do well to consider a career in trades.  We are very keen to support young women on that journey as well.  Either way careers in science and technology are a great pathway to economic independence and personal satisfaction for women.”

Kelsey Keenan participated in the first year of the partnership in 2008 and is a great example of the success of the education partnership.  She completed Meridian Energy’s graduate programme after gaining an electrical engineering degree.  Kelsey

has worked on hydro and wind power sites, including the Manapouri Power Station.  She is currently in Canada working as an Alternative Energy Specialist for the Government of the Northwest Territories, and sent the following note that was read out by Noreen Melvin, SGHS Deputy Principal.

"The programme had a huge influence on me at a critical time of my life.  The time I spent at NZAS gave me a chance to do real lab work, sampling and testing, and gain genuine insight on how science was applied in the real world.  I was able to work alongside scientists and engineers, and picture myself having a fulfilling career in an industrial setting, which was not an area I had considered before.  I came back to school with a fresh perspective on my subjects and a new field of possibilities in mind for my future.”

This year’s partnership students spent six days on site working on their projects.  Tayla Lumsden worked in Reduction, Imogen Brankin spent her time in Reduction and the Casthouse, Bailey McColl was in Carbon, while Catie Wylie worked in the Casthouse.  Their projects looked at measurement of bus bar externals from cell to cell, contaminant pickup analysis: cell to cast, anode resistivity and strength testing, and sodium removal from in-line metal treatment.


Pictured at the end of project week are SGHS project students and their site hosts (from left) Tayla Lumsden, Greg Masters, Bailey McColl, Ray Cook, Imogen Brankin, Prasanth Gopalakrishnan, Catie Wylie, Sam O’Neill, Brett Wylie & Chris Boniface

A night to celebrate our people

Phil Macaskill with his wife Beverly at the Long Service Awards function

The outstanding contributions of the 96 employees who have reached service milestones over the past year were celebrated at the NZAS Long Service Awards function.

The average length of service at the smelter is 18.1 years, which is very unusual for any company in this day and age.  All of this year’s award recipients’ service added together amounts to a whopping 2,325 years – that is a lot of knowledge!

General Manager Gretta Stephens acknowledged her team, “At the end of the day Tiwai is just a huge pile of equipment that doesn’t do anything without the great people to operate it.  Everything we achieve as a site is down to you, our employees.”  Gretta thanked everyone for sticking with NZAS through the tough times as well as the good years and said she appreciated their continued hard work and loyalty to the company.

For the first time, a 45 year service pin was awarded – to Phil Macaskill from Carbon, who started at NZAS as a fresh-faced 21 year old back in 1972.  Phil is pictured with his wife Beverly, who received a special bouquet of flowers from Gretta on the night.

Congratulations to all of this year’s award recipients.

Well done to new Health and Safety Graduate Doug Hall

(Left) Bob McCullum congratulating Doug Hall on completing his Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety

After two years of part-time study Doug Hall from the Composite Contractor Group (CCG) has now completed his Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety.  Doug gained this qualification, equivalent to the second year of a degree, on-line applying what he was learning to his day job at NZAS.

Doug is grateful to Bob McCullum, his leader for supporting his further education and to Craig Scarlett for mentoring him through the process.  Rather than have his graduation ceremony at the Southern Institute of Technology Doug chose to share the moment with his team at CCG who helped him through his studies. 

For NZAS this is a win-win as we get more expertise to make sure we all stay safe on the job.

NZAS supports budding Southland scientists

Gretta Stephens is pictured with Premier Science Award winner Imogen Brankin from Southland Girls’ High School (photo courtesy of Southern Exposures)

The annual NZAS Southland Science and Technology Fair was held in Invercargill recently.  The fair is open to students in Years 5 to 13 from schools around Southland, including Stewart Island, and even further afield.  This year around 300 students participated in the fair, an increase of around 70 from 2016.

NZAS has been the major sponsor for over 20 years and not only provides funding, but also provides the majority of helpers for the fair, with over 30 smelter employees volunteering this year.

Keen young scientists came up with hypotheses, completed experiments, and researched aspects of the world around them.  Those interested in technology used their knowledge and tools to test or invent novel solutions to problems.  Along the way they learnt about ethics in research, and how to keep logbooks of their activities and observations.  The judges were impressed with the quality of the projects noting that most of the top science prizes were won by girls this year.

Imogen Brankin from Southland Girls’ High School was awarded the overall NZAS Premier Science Award for her project “When it rains it rises.”  She investigated nitrate levels in the Aparima River and tested whether those changes relate to rainfall.  

Imogen also received the NZAS award for excellence in science (Year 11-13), a Gold award for Science & Technology, Best exhibit related to meteorology, Best exhibit related to statistics, Best exhibit relating to water or air quality, and Best exhibit related to the environment.

NZAS General Manager Gretta Stephens was delighted with Imogen’s success saying, “Science dispels myths that can allow inequalities to exist.  The long held and false views that women are intellectually inferior to men for example or that some ethnic groups are better than another – are utterly refuted by science.  Imogen’s project was excellent and her hard work has paid off as she scooped the major prize pool this year.”

Imogen was also one of four Southland Girls’ High Year 13 physics students selected to carry out engineering projects at Tiwai  as part of this year's NZAS/Southland Girls’ High School education partnership.  

NZAS judges Scott Gorrie (left) and Ian Sherborne (right) with Sam Richardson and Jackson Faithfull from James Hargest College Junior Campus - Jackson is Rebecca Faithfull's son (Human Resources)
Isla Smith from Windsor North Primary School in front of her exhibit on judging day - Isla is Aaron Smith's daughter (Cell Repair)

Q3 update from the Business Improvement Team

Darren Campbell delivering Green Belt training in Gladstone

It has been another busy quarter for the Business Improvement team with projects being progressed and completed, the annual plan being pulled together, new team members being welcomed, kaizen facilitation, and some collaboration with our colleagues in B&A to deliver Green Belt training.

On the project front Shane Tinnock has been working on ‘Reduction of Sticking Ingots’ in Casting & Logistics.  This project was launched to reduce manual interventions due to ingots sticking to the casting moulds. Changes that have helped include standardising the mould spray pump pressure, focussing on the mould cleaning process and altering the mould spray sequence during casts.  Although there has been clear improvement, work is continuing to further reduce sticking ingots for foundry alloys.  Changes to the casting recipe have resulted in a significant reduction for the majority of foundry alloys but further work is needed for the less common foundry alloys that we cast.  Standardising the maximum belt speed for cold mould sprays and also when casting, and overhauling mould spray nozzles are progressing.  Big thanks to the operators who have provided information/thoughts about what was causing the sticking ingots and for their help when testing and trialling some of the changes, particularly around the mould cleaning process.  Shane has also been supporting Shane Fox (Reco) with the ‘Centre Passage Traffic Flow’ project.

Kim Hill recently facilitated the ‘Green Bake Crew Strength’ kaizen, which involved 12 Green Bake team members.  The outcome focussed on a structure to provide adequate training, contact time and support to become proficient in Green Carbon operations, while sustaining the Green plant.  It was a busy couple of days, which resulted in an action list of improvements to the current structure, training and support of the Green Bake Output Team.

Darren Campbell has completed the ‘Ingot Surface Quality’ project and is currently presenting the findings to the Casting & Logistics operations and Casthouse maintenance teams.  Completing this work has put us in a strong position to secure additional foundry orders in 2018.  Darren’s new project is ‘Crew Capacity – Having the Right Players on the Paddock’ project, which aims to identify and resolve the major issues resulting from manning/skills shortages which impact the ability of our operations and maintenance teams to successfully complete their work.

John Stephens’ main focus has been to develop the NZAS annual plan and get it approved.  This year’s plan is a little unusual in that it includes some deliberate cost increases to prepare for the future and in some areas where previous cost reduction has not been the best business decision.  This is great for the future of NZAS; we can also strengthen our financial position by continuing to unlock additional value from our diverse product range.

Darren Campbell also spent a week in Gladstone helping to deliver the first week of Green Belt training to a class made up of delegates from QAL, Yarwun, Brisbane HQ, BSL, Bell Bay and NZAS.  John Young (Shipping & Logistics) was the NZAS delegate on the training.  The diversity of the group made for an interesting and at the same time challenging session.  The good news is that all of the trainees passed the week one exam.  Kim is going to Gladstone in early October to assist with the second week of training.

Our team numbers have been boosted with Gareth Wishart joining us from the PTC Production Systems team and he is about to start his first Black Belt project to develop an image analysis system for assessing ingot surface quality.  Sreeraj Balachandran has also joined the team to work on high purity metal production projects across the whole smelter.

Employee Survey coming soon …

You may have noticed some posters around site advertising an Employee Survey.

Our last major, business-wide survey was carried out in 2014 and it is time we tracked how we’re going. 

Some of the actions taken at NZAS since the last survey include:

  • Restarting the Working Together Programme (91 people have participated in the last year) and Long Service Awards
  • Improved communication through regular Toolbox meetings, GM briefings, emails and blogs to help everyone understand the state of the business
  • Increased workforce consultation on change (eg e-cigarettes)
  • Continued Employee Activities Group social events such as Transport World and Motorcycle Mecca evenings
  • Introduced the Recognising Performance system
  • Provided mainstream flexible work hours options for day work staff

Surveying our people is one of the best ways we have to listen, reflect and improve; so please take the time to have your say – and encourage your teams to also participate.

For the first time, the survey will be 100% online.  We want everybody to take part so between now and when the survey launches on 25 October, we’ll have a range of options available, including roaming laptops.  And the good news … there are only 16 questions, so the survey will only take 5-10 minutes to complete. 

The employee survey is happening at the same time at all PacAl sites in Australia and New Zealand over a three-week period.  It will benchmark data between sites and against other organisations in similar industries to identify best practice and areas of improvement.  Rio Tinto is also taking part.

We will provide further information in the coming weeks on how you and your teams can have your say.  Please see the survey as an opportunity to share your views in an easy, open and confidential way.  Your opinion really does count.

Do you know how to raise workplace concerns?

Pacific Aluminium has a number of internal channels employees and contractors can use to raise work concerns.  Raising these early is important so we can work to understand and try to resolve your concern quickly.  If you find it difficult to address the issue directly with the person involved or your leader, think about talking to your Manager Once Removed or informally through our Human Resources team:

  • David Stevens (currently on secondment at PacAl in Brisbane until early December)
  • Rebecca Faithfull – x 5721
  • Nadine Hancock – x 5607
  • Kiri Tuhura – x 5722

If you have not been able to resolve your concerns through these informal channels, the Fair Treatment System is available where a formal review process is undertaken to ensure unresolved issues are fully investigated for a fair resolution.  Our current Fair Treatment Advisors are:

  • Peter McMillan – x 5897 (Commercial & Support Services, Daywork)
  • Allan Meikle – x 5811 (Carbon & Business Improvement, Daywork)
  • Murray Rees – x 5581 (Casting & Logistics, Roster 7)
  • Phil Gilligan – x 5681 (Casting & Logistics, Roster 2 Crew 2)
  • Richard Harrison – x 5807 (Reduction, Roster 2 Crew 1)

Alternatively, you can contact Rio Tinto’s whistleblowing programme 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  More commonly known as ‘Speak-OUT’, Rio Tinto has rebranded the service to introduce ‘Talk to Peggy’, the new face of the programme.

Fundamentally, nothing has changed other than striving to improve the service offered to callers and end-users.  The programme is still being managed by Group Ethics & Integrity, an independent function from any of Rio Tinto’s businesses.  When you make contact, you will talk with one of Peggy’s representatives and Group Ethics & Integrity will follow up with you.  Each case is reviewed in confidence and you can choose to provide your details to assist with the follow-up or remain anonymous.

Consider using the other options first, however Speak-OUT may be appropriate as the first point for some concerns.  Talk to Peggy by calling 0800 440-435.

General Election – making sure those in the Beehive understand NZAS

It is important that whoever makes it into the Beehive understands NZAS and what we contribute to New Zealand.  There is no better way of doing that than showing people the extent and efficiency of our operation and as election day got closer the politician count on site got higher. 

(Left) Cherie Chapman & Dr Liz Craig

At the end of August we hosted Labour’s Clutha-Southland candidate Cherie Chapman along with the party’s Invercargill candidate Dr Liz Craig.  Dr Craig has visited us before but remains impressed with the scale of NZAS and is a good supporter of our push for transmission pricing reform.  Ms Chapman had

not been to NZAS before and commented on our commitment to our people and their safety.

In the second week of September local member of parliament Sarah Dowie suggested Trade Minister Todd McClay visit NZAS as part of the Southland visit she was hosting him on.  Minister McClay had also not visited NZAS before and remarked on how useful it was to understand the importance of our trade relationship with Japan and that NZAS produces such low carbon metal comparative to many of our global competitors.

(From left) Scott Westbury, Todd McClay & Sarah Dowie

Finally we hosted the new Clutha- Southland National party candidate Hamish Walker.  Hamish was immediately ready to roll up his sleeves and help us get a fairer deal for the south on transmission pricing – which was warmly appreciated.

So how did Southland vote?

At number 12 on the list Local NZ First list MP Ria Bond will not make it back into parliament but Southland looks likely to pick up another NZ First MP in Mark Patterson who is ranked at number 7.  Mark is a farmer from Lawrence.

Sarah Dowie won the seat of Invercargill for National and if her party forms part of the government, Minister Todd McClay predicted during his recent trip to Invercargill that she would be a Cabinet Minister.

Hamish Walker won the seat of Clutha-Southland for National with a substantial 13,000 votes ahead of Labour’s Cherie Chapman.

At number 30 on Labour’s list Dr Liz Craig becomes a first-time MP as the party won a high enough percentage of the party vote. 

All up Southland looks likely to get four members of parliament – which is a good result.  Now we just have to wait for Winston to make his call!

Hamish Walker & Jen Nolan

Power Supply switchyard upgrade

Rectiformer R24 which services Line 2 is currently being replaced, part of a project to upgrade the entire Line 2 rectiformer fleet.  Civil construction work is being undertaken which includes a new local control building and cable ducting to support the replacement of all four Line 2 rectiformers. 

The project team consists of Nic Hill, Lindsay Buckingham and Roque Gilmete, along with three works supervisors John Moynihan, Birgit Crean and Murray Allen.

Ian Sherborne (Superintendent Power Supply) is complimentary of the work carried out to date, “The many contractors working in the yard present a daily challenge for both operations and maintenance, but with good co-operation between everyone we are managing to keep fully operational while the work is occurring.”

The project began last year with Rectiformer R22 having its transformer replaced.  The entire Line 2 fleet will be upgraded by early 2019.

Preparations are being made to remove R24 - the crane shown is in place to lift out smaller components of the old rectiformer, while the heavy haul team arrive later this week with much larger equipment that is required to remove the transformer and rectifier cubicles
Work continues on the new local control building

Get your motor running …

NZAS employees and their families were lucky enough to spend two evenings at ‘Classic Motorcycle Mecca’ in July, courtesy of the Employees Activities Group (EAG).

Motorcycle Mecca houses the largest display of classic motorcycles in New Zealand.  The collection was previously based in Nelson and was sold to Transport World in May 2016.  Opening in November 2016, the museum has over 300 motorcycles and motorcycle related artwork.  Some pieces of art are considered just as valuable as the bikes.  The motorcycle collection includes solo, sidecar and even

three wheeled automobiles and machinery dating back as early as 1902.  Over sixty manufacturers are represented including AJS, Ariel, BMW, Brough Superior, Harley Davidson, Henderson, Indian, Matchless and Rudge.  Classic Motorcycle Mecca also houses three of four publicly displayed New Zealand-constructed John Britten motorcycles.  

If you didn’t make it along to the EAG evenings, we thoroughly recommend you visit Motorcycle Mecca, which has quickly become one of Invercargill’s top attractions. 

Awarua Bay beach clean-up

My daughter Millie (aged 9) is a Year 5 student at Waihopai Primary School and as part of their recent homework commitment, they had to complete one of 16 community based activities from a long list of 32.  One of the suggested activities was to ‘Clean up an area of your neighbourhood’ and with Millie absolutely loving nature and animals and enjoying kayaking around the shores in the summer, she immediately chose Awarua Bay.  My son Noah (8 years old) is always keen for an adventure and quickly volunteered to help as well.

After Millie emailed Environment Southland and the Department of Conservation to ensure we weren’t disturbing potentially protected land, they advised that Awarua Bay is part of the Awarua Ramsar site, which means it is recognised as a wetland of international importance.  It is a very special place for birds with over 81 bird species recorded there, including 21 trans-equatorial wader species.  This confirmed to us that this was definitely the right area for a beach clean-up. 

Noah & Millie Hackett with some of the rubbish they have collected off the beaches near Tiwai

So far we have completed three, three hour beach clean-ups and the amount of rubbish collected has both amazed and disappointed us.  From steel scaffolding, plastic paint, oil drums and respirators found amongst the rock foundations on the south end of the causeway to seven full sacks of plastic bottles, plastic strapping, supermarket bags, old fishing nets, rope and plastic wrapping found along the south east and west shorelines.

Our clean-up around Awarua Bay inspired Millie to present ‘Plastic Rubbish in our Oceans’ as a speech topic for school and her research uncovered some disturbing facts:

  • An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic rubbish ends up in the world’s oceans every year
  • The most commonly found are plastic bottles, bottle tops, plastic bags, fishing nets and styrofoam cups
  • Plastic isn’t biodegradable and instead is worn down by the sun and ocean currents into smaller and smaller plastic beads
  • It is estimated that 100 million marine animals are killed each year though ingestion of these beads and plastic bags (being mistaken for jelly fish) or through drowning after being caught in discarded nets or plastic strapping
  • The floating plastic beads affect the entire ocean food chain - from restricting light reaching plankton, fish stocks being found with high levels of chemical toxins right through to whales perishing from starvation
  • Scientists believe we can’t easily remove the plastic and rubbish from our oceans and estimate it could take 70 specialist ships over 100 years just to clean up current contamination

We’ve found our Awarua Bay clean-up to be a great family experience with the kids exploring the shorelines and also learning about some critical environmental issues. Awarua Bay is a huge place and we certainly haven’t covered it all, so if you have a spare couple of hours one day and a few rubbish bags go for a walk along the shores – you’ll be helping to preserve this special place.

Roger Hackett – Superintendent Asset Optimisation, Assets

Carbon admin are now home …

Darren Schwass cutting the ribbon to celebrate the reopening of the Carbon Admin building

The Carbon admin team have settled back into their building after being away for 618 days. 

The top storey of the building was left uninhabitable after the roof blew off during a severe storm in October 2015. 

To mark the occasion, Darren Schwass (Carbon & Business Improvement Manager) held a morning tea to thank the many teams and individuals from around site that supported the admin folks while they were homeless!

New starters – July to September 2017

Welcome to:

  • Taei Aluni – Operator, Line 2, Crew 2 (Reduction)
  • Dale Niania – Operator, Carbon Rodding, Crew 3 (Carbon & Business Improvement)
  • Curtis Omelvena – Operator, Green & Bake, Crew 2 (Carbon & Business Improvement)
  • Ana Visala – Secretary, External Relations (Pacific Aluminium New Zealand)
  • Jon Brocklehurst – Operator, Line Services (Reduction)
  • James Hunt – Operator, Green & Bake, Crew 3 (Carbon & Business Improvement)
  • John Wilson – Operator, Line 3, Crew 2 (Reduction)
  • Glen Hargest – Operator, Carbon Rodding, Crew 3 (Carbon & Business Improvement)
  • Prasanth Gopalakrishnan - Cell Design Engineer, Cathode & Reconstruction (Reduction)
  • Mike Dikstaal - Cell Design Engineer, Cathode & Reconstruction (Reduction)
  • Andrew Wilson - Specialist Technical Development (Reduction) - secondment

Our People

Name:  Nicola Thomas

Position:  Management Secretary

How long have you worked at NZAS?
Twelve years

What would you do if you won Lotto?
Travel!  My dream is to arrive at a destination and then go where the mood takes me … but return home for spring and summer

What is your favourite tipple?
A frozen Pina Colada

If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which would you choose and why?
‘The Chase’ with Bradley Walsh, because he really cracks me up and comes across so genuinely – and I love quizzes

Who is the person you most admire in the world?
Bradley Walsh – next PM!

Who would you like to be stranded on a desert island with and why?
Gretta Stephens and Andrea Carson as I’ve never met people who ‘enjoy’ my country music collection quite as much as they do (note the sarcasm – they complain when I play my music a bit loud!)

Where’s your favourite place visited in the world?
Paris and New York, just because I’d heard so much about the famous sites in both cities - to finally see them all in person was very memorable

What would be the most memorable news bulletin you have seen/read?
Having been tripping round Europe for three months, back one night in the UK, waking up late the next morning, turning on the TV to the news a royal had died, and waiting what seemed like ages for them to say it was Princess Diana.  It also sticks in my head because a few days later my partner’s car caught fire just outside Kensington Palace, where he’d dropped me off to go look at all the flowers

What’s your favourite NZ holiday spot & why?
I love the diversity of NZ scenery – a road trip anywhere is my favourite.  And the fact there are so many different places to holiday – we are very lucky to live here!  I laugh that the Aussies get so excited about their “Great Ocean Road” and so much of our coastline is so much “Greater” - IMHO

What was your first job?
Fitzherbert Street Store in Hokitika – where at aged 14 I learnt it didn’t matter how bad your perm was, if you put a big smile on your face, people smiled back and didn’t seem to notice!

What is your favourite song?
Anything slightly country and anything else by Elton John, Billy Joel, Robbie Williams, Fun!, Madness, Magic! Meatloaf … Don’t stop me now …

What is your favourite childhood memory?
Getting up really really early, my parents bundling everyone in the car and driving all the way from Wellsford, north of Auckland, stopping for breakfast in Cambridge then travelling all the way through to Wellington non-stop to stay with our grandparents.  Perhaps this is where my love of road trips started …

Best wishes for your retirement Tony

Last month we said farewell to Tony Smith from the Composite Contractor Group (CCG), who retired after 35 years at NZAS.

Tony started at the smelter in 1982 and held a number of maintenance roles around site over the years including the casthouse, workshops, the old General Services team and latterly as a Work Supervisor at CCG.

Bob McCullum, CCG Superintendent, had some fond words to share about Tony, “When I met him for the first time at the bus stop on the corner of Regent Street and Tramway Road, I couldn’t understand what he was saying and thought to myself, not another bloody Pom, however over time we became not only work mates but good friends who could talk about most things in life.”

“One of my funniest memories was when two pallets of sugar arrived at CCG.  When Smithy put the order in he didn’t realise that the supplier had changed the size of the bags from 1 kg to 25 kg bags.  Can I just say that 25 kg bags of sugar go a very long way,” said Bob.

Tony and his wife Catherine will be moving to Dunedin to be closer to family.  While their house is being built, they are going to travel around NZ.  We wish Tony and Catherine all the very best for a long and happy retirement.

Recycling at its absolute best!

Check out this amazing furniture which is in the Southland DisAbility Enterprises (SDE) foyer.  They may look like any other couch and park bench, but all is not quite as it seems … they are crafted from recycled materials!

The couch (pictured below) and two chairs (not pictured) were made out of baled cardboard and were designed and fabricated by Lew Eustace and Joc O’Donnell from the HW Richardson Group.  Joc, whose family has long association with SDE, had been asked to upgrade the reception area when SDE moved to their current premises.  She decided that due to the nature of the business, all of the furniture should be made by reusing and up-cycling products.  Lew, who was working as part of Transport World’s restoration team at the time, and Joc worked on a design

that not only looked good, but was also comfortable to sit on.  Each individual piece of cardboard was then cut out with a jigsaw, glued and stacked together, then slotted into the frame.

The park bench was donated to SDE by Ricoh and is made out of photocopier toner cartridges.  This particular plastic has also been used for decking. 

These pieces of furniture are a great example of one man’s junk is another man’s treasure!

Speaking of recycling ...

If you haven’t already done so, please put your old hard hat out for collection at your Stores drop-off area. 

Our old helmets will be baled at SDE and sold overseas to be recycled into containers, children’s toys and road barriers.

Everyone should now be wearing their new orange hard hats.  Modelling the new helmet is Doug Ronald from Carbon who was incidentally celebrating his 35th anniversary working at NZAS on the day this photo was taken … all those years at NZAS have clearly gone to his head!  Is it me or does Doug look like he’s a member of the band Devo?  [Anyone younger than 45 won’t have a clue who Devo is so check out the photo on the far right!]

Baby blue whale washes up on beach

A baby blue whale washed up on the beach between Tiwai spit and the old quarantine wharf in August – a very sad and unusual sight.  The Department of Conservation suspect the whale may have been stillborn.

Blue whales are the largest animals ever known to have lived on earth.  These magnificent marine mammals rule the oceans at up to 30 metres long and upwards of 200 tonnes.  Their tongues can weigh as much as an elephant and their hearts as much as a car! 

Their diet consists almost exclusively of krill.  During certain times of the year, a single adult blue whale consumes about 4 tonnes of krill a day.

This species of whale looks true blue underwater, but on the surface their colouring is more of a mottled blue-grey.  

Blue whales live in all of the world's oceans occasionally swimming in small groups but usually alone or in pairs.  They often spend summers feeding in polar waters and undertake lengthy migrations towards the equator as winter arrives.

These graceful swimmers cruise the ocean at more than five miles an hour, but accelerate to more than 20 miles an hour when they are agitated.  

Blue whales are among the loudest animals on the planet.  They emit a series of pulses, groans and moans, and it’s thought that in good conditions, blue whales can hear each other up to 1,000 miles away.

Blue whales are amongst the earth's oldest animals with their average lifespan estimated to be around 80-90 years.

Aggressive whaling in the 1900s drove them to the brink of extinction.  Between 1900 and the mid-1960s, around 360,000 blue whales were slaughtered.  They finally became a protected species in 1966, but have only managed a minor recovery since then.  It is estimated that the worldwide population of blue whales is only between 1,200 and 3,000.

Blue whales have few predators but are known to fall victim to attacks by sharks and killer whales, and many are injured or die each year from impacts with large ships.