Tiwai Pointer

April to June 2017
Tiwai Pointer

Making sure Southland’s leaders understand NZAS

When you live in a small community it is easy to assume your neighbour knows what is important to you and what is happening in your world, but that isn’t always the case.   To make sure Southland’s leaders and key influencers know what is happening with NZAS we have started inviting them to an annual morning tea where we launch the Sustainable Development report.

The NZAS management team and Gretta talk through the contents of the report and answer any questions the guests might have.  As always the report highlights key risks and opportunities for NZAS and this was well received by Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt and other leaders.

General Manager Gretta Stephens said, “I was very proud to announce to the audience that we broke our own record last year, producing 338,556 tonnes of saleable metal from our three P69 Reduction Lines – over 5,000 tonnes more than in 2015 which was another record breaking year.  I look forward to this annual event – it is a great opportunity to get regional key decision makers together and give them an update on our operations.” 

(Left) Gretta Stephens addressing Southland business leaders, along with the NZAS management team

NZAS’ longest serving employee reaches 45 year milestone

(Left) Phil Macaskill being congratulated by Darren Schwass

April was a very special month for Phil Macaskill (Green & Bake Process Controller) as he celebrated 45 years working at the smelter - the first person to reach this magnificent milestone.

Phil started at Tiwai in 1972 when he was just 21 years old and only planned to stay for six months - famous last words!

Prior to starting at the smelter Phil worked as a communications technician and a shearer, vastly different roles than his work at NZAS.

During the last 45 years Phil has spent his entire NZAS career working in the Carbon department, mostly in Green Carbon, and reflected that his role had changed a lot

over that time, mainly due to automation.  “Now one person runs the green carbon process, where it used to be seven who would do the job manually,” he said.

His role has constantly changed over the years with the ongoing changes keeping him interested.  One of Phil’s favourite parts of the job is being able to pass on his knowledge and experience to new employees, while recognising it is certainly not one-sided.  "I try not to get old, I'm learning from the new guys as well as they're learning from me,” he said.  "They're bringing in guys with smarts now that we never dreamed of 40 years ago."

One of the reasons he has stayed so long is that the Tiwai community is a close-knit one, like another family to Phil.  He says employees get well looked after by the company and he wants to return the favour by leaving the Green Carbon plant in the best shape it can be.

Darren Schwass (Carbon & Business Improvement Manager) said, “Phil was half way to his 45 year service milestone when I first met him in 1994.  I was a new graduate and Phil was teamed with Trevor Eddy to operate the Green Carbon plant.  Trevor and Phil were the first crew I worked with, so I have known them both for a long time.  Most Carbon staff will have heard me say that we have 700 different flavours of human at NZAS - Phil is a particularly pleasant flavour to have in the mix.  After 45 years he has gained significant expertise in his role, has seen a lot of changes and has plenty of entertaining stories to tell.  For me though Phil’s greatest asset is the cheerful and upbeat demeanour that he brings through the turnstiles every day.  Phil chooses to enjoy his time at work and in doing so makes the workplace more pleasant for everyone he comes into contact with. “

Congratulations Phil on this very special anniversary!

Head of Rio Tinto’s Aluminium Group visits NZAS

In May, NZAS hosted Alf Barrios, the head of Rio Tinto's Aluminium Group based in Montreal, on his first visit to the smelter.  Alf especially enjoyed the one on one contact with employees while he was touring the site.

It was pleasing to be able to have Alf on site on NZAS’ 126th safe day in a row and he recognised that the team is going in the right direction to achieve a better safety performance.  Alf was very clear that he wants us to put all of our efforts into making sure that NZAS/Pacific Aluminium has a safer year in 2017 and that the Rio Tinto Group as a whole has its first fatality free year.

Thank you to everyone who assisted with this visit, it was a great opportunity to showcase the smelter and have the head of the aluminium group leave with a positive impression of NZAS.

(Left) Alf Barrios with Antony Maloney (C3 Operations Crew Leader)

Southland DisAbility Enterprises – recycling more of our waste

NZAS has built a strong relationship with Southland DisAbility Enterprises (SDE) over the last 27 years.  This relationship has been strengthened even further with SDE now recycling a number of additional NZAS waste streams.  This not only reduces the amount of waste on site, but has also led to cost savings through decreased freight and disposal costs. 

Hamish McMurdo, SDE General Manager, is grateful to NZAS.  “Company recycling such as this not only assists the country environmentally, it also provides real jobs and income for the Southland disability community.  SDE relies on the good recycling habits of individuals in their day to day work and personal lives in order to sustain consistent employment for our disabled employees,” he said.

Huge thanks goes to Don Simpson and Peter McKnight (Stores), and Vivi Hitchcock (HSE) who have been instrumental in setting up the recycling initiatives.

SDE now looks after the following:

Wooden Pallets

Hardwood pallets from the CBF1 rebuild and all other stackable pallets on site are used as a fuel source for SDE’s boiler, providing heating for their Invercargill premises.  Teams on site deliver pallets to Stores for the Freight Haulage day truck to transport into town.

E-Waste (computers)

E-Waste was previously transported to the North Island for disposal.  This now provides SDE with additional work and revenue.  In future, other electronic tools, devices and appliances are likely to be added to the E-waste stream – watch this space!


All plastic, including plastic from 120 litre orange wheelie bins, strapping, bulka bags, cages, 20 litre and 200 litre plastic containers, are taken by SDE.  The orange wheelie bins also collect white polystyrene, newspapers, magazines and small pieces of cardboard.  The plastic containers were previously used as buffers at A&B Lime’s landfill.  SDE shred and recycle the containers. 


All cardboard cages go directly to SDE.  This change means that SDE receive the revenue from the cardboard.  They also guarantee a 24 hour turnaround of the empty cardboard and plastic cages, creating a better service to site.

White Paper

Recyclable white paper (in the 240 litre white bins) now goes directly to SDE.  They provide a 24 hour wheelie bin turnaround which has led to a better service to site.  SDE also receive the revenue for the paper.

Document Destruction

The document destruction service is now carried out by SDE free of charge.

(From left) Peter McKnight, Don Simpson & Vivi Hitchcock pictured with Matt Munro (school holiday student worker), Nga Maruariki & Brett Sutherland from SDE, who are processing NZAS bulka bags

NZAS Board meets at NZAS

(From left) Paula Checketts, Shaun Obara, Andrew Horvat, Naoki Wakita, Tomoyuki Kawauchi (partially obscured),Masahiko Shinada, Naoyuki Kokusho, Gretta Stephens, Stephanie Pearce (partially obscured), Liesl Burman & Brian Cooper

After the NZAS Board meeting held on site in May, Board members once again mentioned how grateful they were for the southern hospitality they always experience. 

The Board was particularly pleased with the site’s efforts to improve safety performance, especially the increased number of safety related GM Innovations.

Their ‘Go, Look, See’ included a visit to the stack (see photo), machine guarding in the Rodding Room and the CBF rebuild crane portable blue light project.

Thank you to everyone who assisted with this visit.

Let’s make a stand together – family violence is NOT OK

Family violence is NOT OK but it is more than OK for you to help.

Last year in New Zealand nearly 120,000 (almost 330 every day) family violence incidents were investigated by the NZ Police.  What makes these statistics even more frightening is that it is estimated 76% of family violence incidents are not reported.

NZAS is committed to providing a safe and supportive workplace, and fostering violence-free families.  Gretta Stephens is making a stand as a Family Violence Champion, part of a Champions campaign set up by the Ministry of Social Development and the Southland RESPECT Network.  Check out Gretta’s poster above which will be distributed around site shortly.


Family violence, domestic violence or abuse, are all terms used to describe violence within families or close personal relationships.  Family violence takes many forms – it is not just physical, it can be psychological, sexual, financial and verbal.  A single act may amount to abuse.  A number of acts that form a pattern of behaviour may amount to abuse, even though some or all of those acts, when viewed in isolation, could seem minor.  Children are affected by family violence whether they see it, hear it, or just know about it.  People who are experiencing violence at home try to hide the violence because they feel ashamed and guilty.  No-one should be frightened by their partner, a family member or someone close to them.

Workplaces can play an important role in preventing family violence.  An information session for employees wanting to learn more about the ‘It’s not OK’ campaign was held on site in May.  Attendees were overwhelmingly in support of setting up an NZAS campaign. 

Champions campaigns are fronted by everyday people – so if this sounds like something you would be interested in being part of, please contact Andrea Carson (Community Relations) by 30 July 2017. 

Ideally we would like a mix of employees from each department to become Family Violence Champions.  Training would involve completing in a four hour course. 

If we join together against family violence, we can make a difference.  Remember, it is OK to ask for help whether you are a victim, a perpetrator or someone wanting to help.

(From left) Karen Sturman, Spike Saunders, Sheila Eastley, Paula Checketts, Janfrie Begley, Debbie Rankin, Darren Campbell, Karen Ave (Southland RESPECT Network), Gerry Forde, Peter McMillan, Kim Watters & Sofia Robinson (Ministry of Social Development) at the 'Are you OK' information session

Safety improvement in Rodding

Warren Livingstone pictured in front of one of the Rodding Room safety showers

Well done to Carbon Operator Warren Livingstone, who is in the process of implementing a very simple yet effective safety initiative in the Rodding Room.

Operators often work by themselves in Rodding, especially on night shift as only six people operate the plant.  As molten cast iron (1460oC) and molten aluminium (730oC) are used, burns are a significant hazard.  If someone was to get burnt, there is a real possibility that other members of the crew wouldn’t know.

Warren devised a plan to install air horns on the Rodding Room’s two emergency safety showers.  An air horn is a pneumatic device designed to create an extremely loud noise for signalling purposes. 

The safety showers will be adapted so that upon activation, the air horn will automatically sound.  Each air horn has cost approximately $150 and the noise is a unique sound to the Rodding Room, making it easy to identify.

This great idea will be shared with other Pacific Aluminium sites.


Total Site Evacuation

If the Total Site Evacuation alarm went, would you know what to do?  Would you recognise the alarm?  This may sound like a silly question but it isn’t – we are all very familiar with the fire brigade callout alarm (6 seconds on 6 seconds off) and our area evacuation alarms (continuous alarm), but the total site evacuation alarm is different again:

1 second on 1 second off for 3 minutes

The alarm would sound in all areas throughout the plant
and will override all other site alarms

If you hear this alarm, proceed to your designated “Area Assembly Point” and report to the Area Warden.  When instructed to do so by the Area Warden, move to the Site Evacuation Point (A) located to the south west of the Medical Centre opposite Reconstruction (see photo).

It is critical that we all know what to do in an emergency.

We are currently reviewing our site evacuation policy in light of lessons learned from recent earthquakes and tsunami alerts.  You will be notified of any changes.

NZAS Site Evacuation Point (by the Medical Centre)

Donate your old mobile phone to help our coastlines and waterways …

If you have any unwanted mobile phones lying around at home or at work, please drop them off to Andrea Carson in the Operations Building. 

For the last five years NZAS has collected old mobile phones and donated them to Swapkit, a company that operates a mobile phone appeal programme which supports the Sustainable Coastlines charity.

Sustainable Coastlines’ mission is to enable people to look after the coastlines and waterways they love.  They co-ordinate and support large scale coastal clean-up events, education programmes, public awareness campaigns and riparian planting projects around New Zealand the Pacific.

It is important that we look after the beautiful coastlines and waterways of New Zealand for future generations of Kiwi kids.  For your information, check out the interesting facts and figures below relating to the worst offenders in the marine environment in NZ.

So if you have any mobile phones you no longer want, please consider donating them to the Sustainable Coastlines mobile phone appeal.  Help us to keep New Zealand beautiful.

Stepping up Health & Safety Rep engagement

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 has a clear focus on employee participation.  The Act expects employees and leaders to work collaboratively to achieve a safe place to work.

Last year a green belt team led by Vivi Hitchcock (HSE) was formed to increase engagement of Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs), an initiative on the 2016 and 2017 NZAS Strategic Maps. 

A baseline survey confirmed that the site wanted to retain HSRs as a form of employee engagement.  We currently have 50 HSRs, however the role functions

were applied inconsistently across site and were poorly understood by all levels within the organisation. 

Legal and task specific HSR role descriptions have been created and will be launched shortly by leaders to ensure everyone at NZAS is familiar with the content and understands the role of an HSR. More HSR engagement projects are planned for 2017 and beyond, so watch this space.

Diversity adds to the banter on the bricks

(Left) Terry Reeves & Liz Bradshaw

Terry Reeves (CBF Rebuild Superintendent) is very happy to have a woman on board as part of the CBF1 Rebuild team and Liz Bradshaw is pretty happy to be part of the crew too.

Liz’s Dad was a bricklayer and when she was 17 years old she decided to follow in his footsteps.  At 21 she began her apprenticeship qualifying about a year and a half

ago, and working most of her career since then on the CBF1 rebuild.  Liz says at first she was attracted by the high pay rate, “but now I really enjoy the company of my team and the friendships I have made.  I love the banter throughout the day.”

Terry says having Liz on board has definitely changed the dynamic of the team.  “It seems to quieten the guys down a bit as they don’t want to show themselves up in front of Liz.  And having a small dynamo like Liz also means the bigger guys on the team make sure they keep up – so it is great for productivity too.”

The team took a while to get used to each other but Terry says Liz really came out of her shell as her skill level and experience increased.  “Liz is not the type to be sheltered by the guys and is very proficient in all aspects of the build regardless of the physical requirements.” 

In fact it seems the team doesn’t get sick of each other through the week.  Terry says there are a number of keen hunters on the team and Liz has taken this up and is often wandering the hills with them.

Liz says her favourite part of her role is installing the walls in the bake; “but the really best part is having a good laugh with the guys.  I have heaps of stories like finding my bag hanging, well out of my reach, on the crane hook just as we are leaving for the day!”

NZAS’ top 10 longest serving employees

Many of our employees have worked on site for decades, for example more than 150 people have been here for over 30 years, and nearly 300 for more than 20 years! 

In case you were wondering, our top 10 longest serving employees are:

  1. Phil Macaskill who celebrated 45 years in April (check out Phil’s story in this edition)
  2. Murray Rees (Technical Services, Casting & Logistics)
  3. Donald Ward (E&I Workshops, Assets)
  4. Kay Shaw (Supply Chain Strategic, Commercial & Support Services)
  5. Phil Jones (Shipping Services, Casting & Logistics)
  6. Graham Gilbert (Line 3, Reduction)
  7. Lance Taylor (Power Supply Operations, Assets)
  8. Ray Weaver (Operations, Casting & Logistics)
  9. Allan Youngman (Reduction Maintenance, Assets)
  10. Arnie Ultee (Carbon & Services Maintenance, Assets)

Neil’s outstanding service to NZ Cadet Forces recognised

Congratulations to Carbon’s Neil Hughes who has been promoted to the rank of Major in the Invercargill Cadet Unit of the NZ Cadet Forces (NZCF).  Neil was commissioned into the NZCF as an Acting Second Lieutenant in July 2000 before being appointed to the post of Acting Cadet Unit Commander.  His promotion is in recognition of many years of dedicated service to the unit.

Evan Madden (Assets) holds the role of Area Support Officer for Southland, co-ordinating and managing all Southland and Central Otago NZCF activities.  “I would like to congratulate Neil on his promotion.  Over the duration of Neil’s service he has displayed strong leadership amongst his peers and colleagues.  Neil has demonstrated a commitment to the ongoing development of youth in our local community through the NZ Cadet Forces and his promotion is well deserved,” he said.

NZCF is a voluntary military-style training organisation for New Zealand youth.  It is one of the three corps run in a partnership with the New Zealand Defence Force, the other two being the Air Training Corps and the Sea Cadet Corps.  There is no reference to the Army within the official title of the NZCF, but an army theme is used.  All of its members, from the cadets to the officers and the support committees are civilian volunteers.

The Invercargill Cadet Unit has 35 cadets and holds Parade Nights each week during school terms.  The starting parade is used to inspect uniforms and to inform the cadets on the night’s activities.  The final parade informs of upcoming events in the unit.  Between the parades the cadets undergo classroom or practical instruction, and participate in a number of activities including:

  • Bushcraft and survival skill training (including weekend camps)
  • Shooting with smallbore rifles
  • Adventure training
  • Assault courses
  • Drill
  • First-aid/search & rescue/casualty evacuation
  • General service knowledge/Cadet Force knowledge
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Fieldcraft
  • Navigation
  • Radio procedures
  • Survival
  • Team work
  • Watermanship
  • Weather reading skills

If you would like to find out more about the Invercargill Cadet Unit please contact Neil on x 5809 (Rodding Room), or Evan on x 5754 (Instruments Workshop).

(Left) Neil Hughes receiving his new rank slides from Captain Alastair Rankin (NZ Army)

New starters – April to June 2017

Welcome to:

  • Robin Blake – Crew Leader, Green & Bake C4, Carbon Products & Business Improvement
  • David Edmiston – Operator, Line 2 C2, Reduction
  • Andrew Haywood - Operator, Line 1 C2, Reduction
  • Dion Dawson - Maintainer/Operator Electrical, Operations C3, Casting & Logistics
  • Sam Taylor - Tradesperson Electrical, Reliability Maintenance, Assets
  • Rohan Jarvis – Operator, Green & Bake C1, Carbon Products & Business Improvement
  • Shane Walters – Operator,Line Services C2, Reduction
  • Kiri Tuhura – HR Officer, Commercial & Support Services
  • Tony Wilson - Operator, Carbon Rodding C2, Carbon Products & Business Improvement
  • Ben Wait-Carrodus - Operator, Carbon Rodding C3, Carbon Products & Business Improvement


Our People

Name:  Joe Wynne

Position:  Superintendent Carbon & Services Maintenance

How long have you worked at NZAS?

34 years

What is your favourite food?

Steak, eggs & chips

What is your favourite tipple?


What’s the most outstanding memory of your school days?

Getting kicked off the school bus for three months in the winter and having to ride my push bike from Manapouri to Te Anau every day for school

What’s your biggest achievement in life so far?

Making it to 50

What would be the most memorable news bulletin you have seen/read?

The Wahine disaster over the wireless at 7 years old (the sinking of the Lyttleton to Wellington ferry Wahine on 10 April 1968 was NZ's worst modern maritime disaster, 53 people lost their lives)

What’s your favourite saying/proverb or mantra?

There is nothing that bad it can’t get worse

What was your first job?

Planting native trees at the Te Anau control gates site

Who is the Southlander you most admire and why?

Norman Kirk - as a pimply little apprentice covered in grease he still wanted to shake my hand and he had a ‘real man’s’ hand shake as well!

If you had the power to change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Education levels - my old man’s saying “the enemy of poverty is an education”

What is your favourite song?

‘Death car’ by Iggy Pop

Who was your celebrity crush?

Bo Derek

What made you laugh the hardest in your entire life?

The silly stuff I have got up to over the years

What is your favourite childhood memory?

Pinching the half empty flat beer kegs from the back of the pub

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Starch - I argued with Gran that it was a bag of icing sugar and in the end she relinquished

How did you meet your wife?

She was stalking me at the pub - I tried to fight her off but weakened

If you could witness any event in the past, present or future, what would it be?

The birth of some great grandkids

What does a perfect day look like to you?

Getting in a van with the finest minds at NZAS and coming to work

A blast from the past …

This is a little snippet from ‘The People & the Power’, a book written to celebrate NZAS’ 25th anniversary back in 1996.

The photo on the right was taken in May of that year when the then, New Zealand Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, opened the plant upgrade.  The ceremony took place in the Casthouse with Mr Bolger unveiling a plaque and pouring molten aluminium for a commemorative plaque.  This was followed by lunch for 300 guests in a marquee set up in the smelter’s car park. 

As NZAS’ anniversary coincided with the Prime Minister’s 61st birthday the quartet providing background music included a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, while students from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Arowhenua language school sang a series of songs.

Twenty one years ago as the wind howled and the rain came down guests commented on a typical day at Tiwai.  Some things never change!

If you would like a copy of the book, please contact Andrea Carson, Community Relations.

(Left) Former NZAS General Manager, David Brewer, standing next to Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, who is pouring molten aluminium for the commemorative plaque

Are you having trouble sleeping?

Did you know that fluorescent lights, LEDs, TVs, computers, smartphones and other electronic devices emit blue light that can disrupt our sleep patterns?  These devices don’t provide a constant source of light and are actually flickering, which can trigger migraines and can cause eye strain/headaches.

What can you do?

  • Avoid TV, computers and bright artificial light
  • Block blue light on your various screens by using a blue blocking screen cover or app that blocks blue light.  Blue light has become such a large issue that the recent update on the iPhone will allow you to turn the blue light off via the settings menu
  • Replace all light bulbs, fluorescent lights and LEDs with blue-blocking bulbs
  • Make sure you set a technology curfew time
  • If you wear glasses or contact lenses, there is now a line of clear lenses, contact lenses and sunglasses that provide varying levels of protection against blue light.  This is a great breakthrough for people who suffer from migraines.  For further details contact your optometrist

Tips for a good night’s sleep:

  • Shut down any technology you have been using two hours before bedtime – this will give your brain a chance to unwind and get ready for sleep
  • Don’t store digital devices such as your smartphone, tablet, laptop etc in your bedroom – put them in a different area of the house
  • Use an alarm clock instead of your smartphone to wake you up in the morning
  • Make sure you add some relaxing ‘me time’ into the mix such as reading, listening to music or meditating