Tiwai Pointer

January to March 2018
Tiwai Pointer

Inclusion and Diversity and NZAS

Recently several women who work at NZAS travelled to Brisbane to attend a ‘Women in Leadership’ workshop.  You might ask why, when women make up only 6.5% of NZAS’ workforce, do employees need to attend a women’s workshop - well that is exactly the reason why we needed to have the workshop.

Rio Tinto has recognised it needs to lift its game in terms of the diversity of its workforce and this includes all the Pacific Aluminium sites.  Unfortunately our stats are not great – but NZAS has by far the greatest opportunity trailing behind Bell Bay with 12% and 11.5% at BSL.

The bottom line is that companies make more money when they have greater diversity in their workforce.  McKinsey studied 366 companies and found that those businesses in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above the average for their industry. 

Brian Cooper, Chief Operating Officer, is leading the charge on this work, “We are in a tough business and

we will only thrive by thinking differently and being more innovative.  To do that, we will need a better gender balance and the contribution of other groups.  Our focussed initiatives for now are improving our gender diversity - it’s where our largest diversity gap exists when you compare us to the communities we live in.  It’s not only the right thing to do, it makes business sense.  Without it we risk becoming out of touch.  Once people see the benefits of an inclusive and diverse workforce, the proof will speak for itself,” he said.

General Manager Gretta Stephens was once offered a career changing promotion by a senior woman when she was on maternity leave and now always makes sure she includes those who are at home caring for babies when opportunities come up.  So she reached out to Specialist Technical Development Bridget Young who is currently on maternity leave, not only inviting her to come to the workshop in Brisbane but to bring along her baby James, who pretty much was the star of the workshop. 


Jen Nolan (PacAl NZ External Relations Director) holding baby James

As for the value of the workshop – already NZAS has kicked off an Inclusion and Diversity project and the work is now included in our ‘critical few’ with a target of increasing our diversity by 2%.  So if you know any women who want to work at NZAS tell them to get in touch and let’s all make them feel welcome when they get here. 

Changes to the way we recruit Operators

2018 - Advert Updated

Following on from the Women in Leadership workshop in Brisbane, NZAS held a workshop with members of our leadership team, Rio Tinto Human Resources, Pacific Aluminium and Enterprise Recruitment to map out a pathway for NZAS’ future workforce.

The focus of the workshop was not only how we can increase the number of female operators at NZAS but also how we can streamline the recruitment process in general.

It was clear from the first session that the Operator Pool recruitment method has not been delivering the right people with the right attributes at the right time.  So a new way to recruit operators has been developed using some of the practices used at some of Pacific Aluminium’s and Rio Tinto’s Australian sites.

The Operator Pool system will be abolished.  Instead, we will be recruiting every quarter for operators to start straight away as employees, rather than to remain in a pool of candidates waiting for the next opportunity.

All new recruits will be on-boarded into the newly named Operator Hub.  They will spend three-months in a standard on-boarding trainee system where they will learn the ropes of the site and the specific needs of the department they have been earmarked for.  Importantly, the foundation they receive in training makes their skills transferrable to other departments when the need arises.

While we wait for the new recruits to receive their training, we will be increasing contractor numbers to deal with immediate shortfalls.

We will be advertising for operators in the coming week.  You’ll see we are focussing on recruiting people who have the right attributes to work well here.  We’re looking for people who can demonstrate self-motivation, team work, have a high regard for safety, are good learners and are committed to the opportunity.  You can see the first advertisement here – this will be in the Southland Times over the weekend.

And remember if you know someone who you think would be a great NZAS operator tell them to give it a go. 

Steve Moratti (Superintendent Shipping & Logistics) recently attended a seminar at parliament where he met the GM Commercial of Ports of Auckland who asked his favourite coffee maker if she had ever thought about working at the port.  Now she is their best straddle carrier operator.  Their workforce is now 20% female.

Green light for the changes proposed by the 'Players on the Paddock' project

The 'Players on the Paddock' project aimed to make sure we have the right people with the right skills ready to meet the tasks of the day, every day.  

Gretta Stephens has just announced that Brian Cooper has approved changes proposed by the 'Players on the Paddock' and the 'Operator Hub' projects.

These are:

  • Introduction of a Restriction Management superintendent to better support team members and leaders
  • A dedicated training team (11 additional roles) to recover our training backlog and ensure we can manage higher rates of turnover in coming years
  • An additional role to support contractor management in each field maintenance team
  • Some fixed term support in HR for recruitment, in Procurement for updating contracts and to regain our ISO 14001 (Quality) certification

This will result in a significant increase to employee costs.  Gretta says, “We are still expected to manage site costs within the total operating budget, and to identify additional savings to offset the cost increases.  This is great news for NZAS and we will be proceeding with recruitment as quickly as possible.”

NZAS Innovators

The first round of the 2018 NZAS GM Innovation Awards has been completed.

“It was a fantastic round and choosing the winning entries was quite difficult, with one entry moved to the Cost category to enable an additional winner,” said Gretta Stephens.

Congratulations to the following:

  • Health, Safety & EnvironmentKeith Steel (Reduction), Mark Dawson & Evan Madden (Assets) for their ‘Cell Cut Out Voltmeter’ project
  • Living the ValuesDarren Schwass (Casting & Logistics) for his ‘Adopt a Highway’ initiative
  • CostDiesel Faulkner, Dion Dawson & Nick Wiering (Casting & Logistics) for their ‘Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) Burner Diagnostic Panel’ project

Keith Steel was particularly chuffed when he drew out the Air New Zealand Mystery Weekend prize at the Line 2 Crew 4 toolbox.

Focus on Cost winning entry:

Prior to the HFO burner diagnostic panel being installed, there was no system in place to assist Casthouse Operators to diagnose the cause of HFO burner faults.  This led to Diesel, Dion and Nick designing a simple LED indication panel that has a diagnostic flow chart attached to allow fast and accurate fault finding. 

This excellent innovation has not only resulted in reducing frustration for the Operators but there is also a cost benefit due to faults being identified more quickly.

(From left) Gretta Stephens pictured with the winners of the Cost Category, Dion Dawson, Diesel Faulkner & Nick Wiering

Well done to all of our winners.  The countdown is now on for the next round which will close on 9 May.


Fire on Tiwai Peninsula too close for comfort

In January a serious scrub fire broke out on Tiwai Peninsula.  Crews from Fire & Emergency NZ worked tirelessly throughout the night fighting the blaze, along with two helicopters with night vision equipment, the Tiwai Industrial Fire Brigade and a number of NZAS operations staff. 

In addition to ground crews, a total of eight helicopters managed to get the fire under control the following day, with Emergency Services remaining on the scene for another four days dampening hot spots.

Although it got very close, thankfully the fire didn’t reach the plant and only minor damage was sustained to the 11kV power supply to the bore line pumps.

Gretta Stephens praised the rapid response from Emergency Services.  “Seeing the way so many individuals and organisations pulled together so quickly was very impressive. Without their professionalism, the outcome of the fire could have been so much worse.  I would also like to acknowledge the rest of the NZAS team who covered for our brigade members and other operations staff who assisted during the blaze.”

One of the two helicopters fighting the peninsula blaze during the night
The peninsula fire heading towards the smelter (photos courtesy of Keri Tuna, Department of Conservation)

South Port Board visits NZAS

Last week the South Port Board of Directors held their monthly meeting at NZAS. 

Chief Executive Nigel Gear appreciated the opportunity to bring the board to NZAS, “The smelter is one of South Port’s important customers and we welcome these opportunities to build on our excellent working relationship.  The board had an extensive tour around the plant and gained a more thorough understanding of the internal workings and logistics processes.  Thanks to Gretta, the management team and Andrea who gave up some of their valuable time to spend with us, it was very much appreciated.”

South Port is New Zealand’s southernmost commercial deep water port.  Like NZAS, the port operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

From its base on the 40 hectare man-made Island Harbour, South Port provides a full range of marine services, cargo and container shipping, and on-site warehousing for domestic and international customers.  The port is ideally situated to service Southland’s significant export and import industries including aluminium, timber, fisheries, dairy, meat, wood chips, stock food, cement, alumina, fertiliser and petroleum products.  The region’s major exporters are all situated within 80 km of the port.

In 2017 South Port handled 3.05 million tonnes of import and export cargo (1.62 million tonnes of imports and 1.43 million tonnes of exports).  NZAS is the port’s

largest customer by trade volume with 1.13 million tonnes of cargo (metal and raw materials) going through the port in 2017, which equates to 37% of South Port’s total cargo volumes.

South Port employs around 120 full time equivalent staff.

(From left) South Port Chief Executive Nigel Gear, along with Board members Rick Christie, Clare Kearney, Tommy Foggo, Rex Chapman (Chairman), Kirsten Hoyle (Executive Assistant) & Jeremy McClean touring the Casthouse

Welcome to our new process engineering graduates

Welcome to Ben Conway, Aparajita Goswami and Brendan Ward, who have been working in graduate process engineering roles at NZAS since January.

(From left) Ben Conway, Aparajita Goswami & Brendan Ward

Ben Conway

Ben is based in Carbon and recently completed a GradDip and a MEngSt in Mechanical Engineering, with a yacht engineering specialisation.  He is originally from Invercargill and immediately prior to starting at NZAS, worked as a maths teacher at James Hargest College.

“Working at NZAS has been enjoyable so far.  I have had some interesting things on my desk and the shift rotation is proving to be informative.  I have enjoyed meeting people from different areas and learning the various idiosyncrasies of the plant,” he said.

Ben is enjoying the relaxed Southland lifestyle, especially being so close to family, and certainly doesn’t miss the Auckland traffic!

Aparajita Goswami

Aparajita is working in Reduction and graduated from Auckland University with a Masters (Research) of Chemical & Materials Engineering (metallurgy based). 

“My favourite part about working at Tiwai - including my recent shift work experience across all three production areas - is that right from day one everyone is listened to, valued and given responsibility to shoulder.  My least favourite part however, would be the high canteen bill I have somehow managed to incur during my short stint here,” she joked.

Aparajita’s move from Auckland has given her the opportunity to enjoy picturesque weekend drives to (and dives in) some of New Zealand's most breathtaking locations.  So far she has explored Curio Bay and the Catlins.

“Overall my first two months in Invercargill have been filled with amazing people and experiences. Living away from loved ones whilst embarking on this graduate journey has taught me resilience, to be less materialistic and to proactively nurture a meaningful life down here,” said Aparajita.

Aparajita has many talents – she is multi-lingual speaking four languages, as well as being an accomplished violinist.

Brendan Ward

Brendan is located in Casting & Logistics having graduated from Canterbury University with BHons Engineering specialising in Mechatronics.  He earlier completed a Certificate in Business and Certificate in Electrical Engineering at the Southern Institute of Technology.   Brendan is originally from Invercargill and has previous work experience as a vacation student in Carbon Bake and Reconstruction.

“I am enjoying my time at NZAS, there’s so much to see that I’m still getting used to the place.  But so far it’s been great, learning lots and meeting lots of people.  Being from Southland it has been easy to settle back in and I’ve enjoyed catching up with old friends,” said Brendan.

United States impose tariffs on aluminium and steel imports

On 23 March the tariffs announced by the President of the United States of America of 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminium came into effect. 

Previously the United States’ trade partners scrambled for exemptions and deals. Australia, Canada and Mexico have all secured exemptions but only until 1 May.  New Zealand has asked for an exemption but we have not had an answer yet.

In 2017 NZAS sold less than 2% of its metal into the United States to the value of $23 million, significantly down from the $43 million sold into that market in 2015.  This is because the sales and marketing team has read the strong signals from Trump that tariffs

would be part of his pledge to rebuild the aluminium and steel industries within his own country.

The fear from analysts is that the situation could deteriorate into a trade war between China and the United States and that a small export focussed country like New Zealand would be caught in the middle.

The Whitehouse has also announced a process for individual producers to seek special exemptions based on whether “an article is not produced in the U.S. in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or in a satisfactory quality, or for a specific national security consideration.”


In the meantime the Sales and Marketing team are closely watching how this will unfold in order to understand the impacts on the global aluminium market.

New fleet of electric vehicles at NZAS – time to get charged up!

Did you know that there are more than 2 million electric vehicles on the road around the world? 

NZAS has taken ownership of its first fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) - a new Hyundai IONIQ, along with three second-hand vehicles – two Nissan Leaf EVs and a Nissan NV200 EV. 

Our new Hyundai EV

Mike Fraser (Acting Superintendent, Contractor Composite Group) carried out a Six Sigma Green Belt project to identify the best replacement options

for the site’s ageing fleet of Ford Territory vehicles, which resulted in three of the vehicles being identified for replacement by EVs.  Another EV was purchased for the Electrical Workshop team to replace the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Four charging stations will be installed around site – at the Operations Building, Changehouse, VDC and Workshops - with one provided free of charge from PowerNet.  The agreement with PowerNet will allow them to gather useful energy consumption data relating to industrial EV use and to promote the usage of EVs in the community.

New Zealand is currently in the very early phase of transitioning to electric vehicles.  Accordingly the amount of infrastructure and range of vehicle types is relatively limited.  As the uptake and technology matures it is expected that the range of product offerings and charging hardware standardisation will increase. 

If you are a ‘petrol head’ (excuse the pun), the following specs on the Hyundai IONIQ may be of interest:

  • Range – around 200 kms
  • Acceleration – 0 to 100kph approx 9.9 seconds
  • Top Speed – 165 kph
  • Cargo Volume – 23.8 cuft
  • Seats – 5 adults
  • Charge Time about 4.5 hours 240v
  • DC Fast Charger 80% in 33 mins at 50kW
  • Powertrain – 88kW electric motor
  • Drivetrain – front wheel drive
  • Battery Warranty – lifetime warranty

NZAS boosts technology at local high school

When the NZAS Automation team purchased a 3D printer for project and development work, they also received a free 3D mini printer.  The printer wasn’t suitable for site use and has been donated to Southland Girls’ High School (SGHS).  Andrea Carson (Community Relations) presented it to class 8HK. 

Erin Pickering (Head of Junior School) was delighted with the donation, “As part of their civics lessons the students are looking at town planning and how this can influence and affect communities.  Alongside proposals for the new design of the CBD in Invercargill, the students are having a go at imagining and constructing their own versions with the best interests of their community in mind.  They will now be able to create 3D models using the 3D printer to test out their ideas more fully.”

“The girls (and teachers!) are busy brainstorming other ways to use the 3D printer to enhance their learning.  I know one area of interest for utilising the 3D printer is mathematics,” she said.

3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file.  The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes where

an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.

(From left) Andrea Carson pictured with SGHS students Brooke Johnstone, Lily McAra, Ella Collinson & Grace Griffin, along with Erin Pickering (Head of Junior School)

Celebrating the women of Tiwai

Gretta Stephens hosted NZAS women at a morning tea to celebrate International Women’s Day.  It was also attended by Bruce Cox, Brian Cooper and Stephanie Pearce from Pacific Aluminium.

New Starters – January to March 2018

Welcome to our new starters:

  • Hamish Rose – Tradesperson Mechanical, Casthouse Maintenance, Assets
  • Ben Cardwell – Tradesperson Mechanical, Carbon Maintenance, Assets
  • Chetankumar Deshbhratar – Metallurgical Technician, Analytical & Monitoring Services, Commercial & Support Services
  • Tom Watts – Tradesperson Mechanical, Reliability Maintenance, Assets
  • Ben Conway – Process Engineer, Project Engineering, Carbon & Business Improvement
  • Aparajita Goswami – Process Engineer, Technical Development, Reduction
  • Chanda Ripley – Operator, Line 1 C1, Reduction
  • Brendan Ward – Process Engineer, Project Engineering, Casting & Logistics
  • Richard Davison – Operator, Line 3 C1, Reduction
  • Anton Brunold – Tradesperson Mechanical, Carbon Maintenance, Assets
  • Aaron Wilmshurst – Operator, Reconstruction C1, Reduction
  • Andrew Furness – Tradesperson Electrical, Reliability Maintenance, Assets
  • Warren Priest – Tradesperson Electrical, Reliability Maintenance, Assets
  • Roger Wells – Tradesperson Mechanical, Reduction Maintenance, Assets
  • Arama Jones – Operator, Line 2 C3, Reduction
  • Micheal Jefferis – Operator, Green & Baked Carbon C4, Carbon & Business Improvement
  • Shannon Kite – Operator, Line 3, Reduction
  • Kathryn Roy – Tradesperson Electrical, Carbon Maintenance, Assets
  • Scott Henderson – Stores Officer, Logistics, Assets


Our People

Name:            Don Simpson

Position:       Stores Officer, Assets Department

How long have you worked at NZAS?
34 years – I have worked in Stores the entire time

What would you do if you won Lotto?
Set up my two adult children for life.  I would also enjoy great music festivals around the world with my wife Chrissy

What is your favourite food?
A home cooked roast, with apple crumble and vanilla ice-cream for dessert

What is your favourite tipple?
I do not drink

Who is the person you most admire in the world?
My wife Chrissy - she is such a positive and loving person

What is your favourite leisure activity?
Dancing to a live band whether it’s with someone or by myself

Where’s your favourite place visited in the world?
The five day ‘Byron Bay Blues’ music festival in Australia.  You get to see international stars and not just blues music.  The acts I have seen include Santana, Jethro Tull, Mavis Staples, 80 year old Buddy Guy, Madness, Neil Finn, Bonnie Rait, the best ukulele player playing Bohemian Rhapsody, street musicians, Aboriginal music - the list goes on.  The field is permanent and you can also eat a variety of foods from around the world

What’s your biggest achievement in life so far?
My two adult children, BJ and Nicole

What’s your favourite NZ holiday spot and why?
Kaiteriteri - golden sands, beautiful scenery and great childhood holiday memories

What’s your favourite saying/proverb or mantra?
Find something that you enjoy doing and you will never have to work again

What was your first job?
As a child delivering groceries in a basket on my pushbike for the local dairy.  My first job as an adult was tying labels to the legs of sheep at the freezing works

Who is the Southlander you most admire and why?
No favourites but I admire any Southland musician.  To me a person that is entertaining a crowd is actually giving a gift to the audience 

If you had the power to change one thing in the world, what would it be?
No sickness

What is your favourite movie?
The Green Mile - even though I have seen it many times, it is still a moving well-acted movie

What is your favourite song?
‘Wish you were here’ by Pink Floyd

How did you meet your wife?
Chrissy lived in the next door block of flats and I met her while I was trying to play cricket up the driveway

What does a perfect day look like to you?
Dancing the entire day, or spending time with my family especially my two year old granddaughter Alexia

Cheers to NZAS … a weekend getaway into wine country

Kim Watters (Lab) spent a relaxing weekend in Napier recently courtesy of NZAS. 

As one of our GM Innovation Award winners, Kim was automatically entered into the Air New Zealand Mystery Weekend prize draw, which she won.

Kim was accompanied by her husband ‘Stormy’ (ironically his name lived up to expectations as it poured the whole time, but luckily so did the wine!).  They are pictured wine tasting at one of Hawkes Bay’s most well-known wineries, Church Road.

“Napier is a beautiful city and we will definitely go back, ideally next time for the Art Deco week, which we only just missed.  Thank you NZAS for offering all GM Innovation Award recipients the chance to win one of these special Mystery Breaks.  We are very grateful that I picked the lucky ticket,” said Kim.

If you fancy a fabulous weekend away on NZAS, make sure you enter the GM Innovation Awards – a mystery weekend is up for grabs each round, with the next round closing at the end of June.  You have to be in to win!

Let’s step back in time - Bluff’s Paua Shell House

Many Southlanders and indeed people from all over the world, have very fond memories of Bluff’s iconic ‘Paua Shell House’ and particularly of owners Fred and Myrtle Flutey.

Fred and Myrtle were true Bluff identities who decorated their lounge with thousands of paua shells, which quickly turned their home into a celebrated tourist attraction.

Following their deaths in the early 2000s, their grandson purchased the house and loaned the shell collection to the Canterbury Museum.  The museum recreated the Fluteys’ lounge in painstaking detail,

using much of the original furniture and decorations, with the exhibit opening to the public in 2008 where it remains to this day.

Fred and Myrtle made everyone who stepped through their front door feel very welcome.

The following information was sourced from ‘Bluffies’ (a Bluff History Group publication):

When Fred Flutey married Myrtle Sangster in 1928 it was the beginning of a love that lasted for 72 years.  Fred, a bushman and Myrtle, a cook, had met at the Port Craig sawmill where they both worked.  Following their wedding the young couple lived at Tuatapere and then Haldane before settling in Bluff in 1939.

During the war years Fred worked at Sid Ward’s rabbit factory and joined the Home Guard.  With a growing family of five daughters and two sons to provide for, Fred was a tireless worker.  A variety of day jobs were augmented by a milk run and bottle’o business. 

Somehow he made time to join the Bluff Volunteer Fire Brigade earning the coveted Gold Star award for 25 years’ service.

Myrtle was equally busy – Plunket, Scouts and Guides, Maori Women’s Welfare League, Bluff CWI, Pride of Rebekah Lodge, church bazaars and carnival committees all benefited from her endless enthusiasm.

The family purchased and operated Flutey’s Milk Bar, a seven day business at a time when Bluff was really booming.  Once again, hard work and long hours were the keynote and their efforts were well rewarded.

The purchase of 258 Marine Parade and setting up of what was to become the Paua Shell House was the pinnacle of their achievements.

Fred had amassed a huge collection of shells, mainly from Fiordland, meticulously ground, sanded, polished and put on display.  His knowledge of paua shell was without peer. 

Hundreds of thousands of visitors, many from overseas, passed through their doors to be greeted with handshakes, huge smiles and the warmth for which Bluff’s first couple became renowned.

Television and film makers, dignitaries, adults and children were made welcome, all hours of the day, seven days a week.

When Myrtle passed away in May 2000, aged 89, daughter Gloria Henderson stepped into the breach as hostess at the house, filling her much loved mother’s role.  Fred battled on before dying on New Year’s Eve 2001.

Fred and Myrtle, known world-wide, an iconic Bluff couple.