Tiwai Pointer

April to June 2016
Tiwai Pointer

Japanese Ambassador visits NZAS

We were very proud to host the Japanese Ambassador, Mr Toshihisa Takata, at NZAS last month.  After an extensive site tour Gretta Stephens, General Manager, was able to outline the challenges currently facing NZAS and the impact high electricity and transmission prices are having on our international competitiveness.

The previous evening the Ambassador was joined by Southland business leaders and was particularly pleased to sample Bluff oysters and New Zealand beef.

Queen’s Honours for John Mooij

NZAS’ very own John Mooij has received an honorary Queen’s Service Order (QSO) in the Queen’s 90th Birthday honours list, alongside his wife Lynda Mooij who has received a QSO – both for their services to foster care.  Currently a member of the Reduction Support team, John has worked at NZAS since 1976.

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.

When they met John and Lynda already had five biological children between them, and both had experience as foster carers.  Of the 11 children they have fostered long term, three are now with them for life ranging in age from 15-31.

John works full time in the Line Services team while Lynda looks after the children, regularly taking them to visit paediatricians, doctors and other services as part of their day to day wellbeing.  Lynda also gives talks in schools, to social services and other organisations on foetal alcohol syndrome – something she is passionate about having seen firsthand the effects it has on a child’s developing brain.

The Mooijs encourage their children to attend school for as long as possible and participate in social and sporting activities.  They don’t bring the children up to think they have special needs and don’t believe there is any such thing as a 'normal child'.

“Being foster parents requires teamwork”, says John.  “I support Lynda wherever I can and because I do shift work I have been able to take part in many of the children’s activities.”

Despite the incredible humanitarian service John and Lynda have undertaken for so many years they were surprised and humbled to receive Queen’s Birthday honours.

Congratulations John and Lynda - you are an inspiration to all of us and truly deserving of this honour.

A clean sweep for Spotless Cleaners

NZAS’ cleaning team – Spotless Cleaners – has won the Long Service Award and placed as a finalist in the Industrial category at the recent “Clean Sweep Awards” held in Auckland in May.

Spotless Customer Service Manager Tina Kupa says, “We were super stoked to have placed in both categories.  We could not have done this without everyone’s participation over the many years we have had this contract.”

Spotless Cleaners has serviced NZAS for over 35 years and during this time has built strong working relationships with the NZAS team.  In the 1980s Spotless employed over 60 people to clean offices, cribrooms and bathrooms, including a 300 shower-room changehouse, on three shifts per day.  They are still going strong although with a much smaller team of twelve.

The average length of service amongst the Spotless team is more than 20 years and these employees remain at NZAS because they believe it is a great place to work.  The team is proud to be based in Southland where they endeavour to provide a high standard of cleaning at the smelter site, with long serving employees commenting that they will be there until retirement.

Although Spotless Cleaners consider NZAS one of the most challenging places to work in terms of workplace hazards, employee wellbeing is given high importance.  Every cleaner is issued with PPE and has a medical assessment every two years.

The Spotless relationship with NZAS is more than just cleaning.  For the past five years the team have also been providing the cafeteria and catering services to the smelter’s workforce.

NZAS General Manager Gretta Stephens views the relationship with the Spotless team as a success story, “Not only has Spotless provided outstanding service to NZAS over the years, they have also worked alongside us during the tough financial times to reduce costs and save cash.  We congratulate them and thank them for their contribution,” she says.

Toolbox Refresh - 'T2' about to launch

Last year PacAl Chief Operating Officer, Brian Cooper, indicated he was concerned with the variation in Toolbox meeting quality across PacAl sites.  Pulse survey feedback also was critical of our Toolbox format. 

As a result Brian set up a team from across the PacAl sites to update our Toolbox system.  This week we launch our own Toolbox refresh - “T2” - here at NZAS.  The aim of T2 is to improve efficiency, safety and engagement by efficiently providing all the information team members need to successfully achieve the work of the shift ahead.  Toolboxes will be more engaging, punchier and relevant to you as you prepare for your shift.

As the last site to launch the Toolbox refresh we have the advantage of learning from the processes and approaches employed at Bell Bay and BSL to see what best fits in the NZAS context.

A team of employees from each of our main production areas are establishing pilot Toolboxes for the remainder of site to follow at rollout.  Four team members will be heading to our sister smelters to absorb the approaches adopted across the Tasman and return as T2 ambassadors, enabling NZAS to achieve a “fast follow” from the refreshed Toolboxes at Bell Bay and BSL.  Look out for more information about T2 in the coming weeks.

The NZAS T2 project team:

Project Lead:  Darren Schwass (Carbon & Business Improvement)

Business Improvement SupportDarren Campbell

Project Team:  Stephen Smith, Steve Shirley & Jeff Dakers (Line 3); Tony Warren, Jeremy Lennon, Kylie Tiriaere (Green & Bake Carbon); Joe Wynne, Darryl Smith & Kevin Lang (Carbon & Services Maintenance); Damon McLaughlin (MP Technical Services) and Debbie Rankin (Training)




Kākāpō chicks





In May the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Te Ao Marama held a special function to thank NZAS for 25 years of support for the Kākāpō Recovery Programme. 

We were overwhelmed when presented with ‘Taonga’ - a mounted kākāpō - by Lou Sanson, DOC’s Director-General.  Taonga means ‘treasure’ in Maori and we will certainly treasure this special gift. 

The function was held to acknowledge not only our financial contribution but also the hard work of our volunteers - in particular the maintenance team who played a key role in the success of the programme by ensuring island infrastructure, especially power systems, ran smoothly.

As you know, NZAS exited the partnership at the end of last year and we are very proud that our contribution was able to provide 25 years of certainty for the programme.  We are delighted that Meridian Energy has taken up the baton and are now partnering with DOC to support kākāpō into the future.

DOC also held a special viewing day for NZAS employees and their families to visit the ten kākāpō chicks which were hand-raised in Invercargill.  Around 80 people took up this fantastic opportunity.



Sensible Automation Workshop

Following the PacAl Corporate ‘deep dive’ held in Brisbane in April, each of the sites were asked to look at the opportunities to reduce musculoskeletal exposure, eliminate repetitive tasks, and remove manual tasks through the introduction of automated plant and machinery. Reduced cost coupled with advances in technology mean what was once “Star Trek” may now be a feasible option.

A workshop was held in May which consisted of representatives from the three main operational areas (Carbon, Reduction and Metal Products) and the Automation team. Brian Ingham, Diesel Faulkner, Mandeep Gill, Glenn McDonald, Stephen Lau, Richard Snoek, Bridget Young and Grant Butler (PacAl Business & Production Systems) spent two days reviewing the existing automation project hopper, brainstorming new ideas, observing work in the plant and talking with a selection of stakeholders across site to identify new opportunities.  Grant presented some examples of plant automation that has already been implemented in other smelters/industries.

The team identified many opportunities for future automation projects and have selected a small number to start working on now.  The immediate opportunities identified for further investigation included the butt cleaning machine, ladle handling machine and a suite of further crane automation projects across site.





Go-Pro Video enhances learning

Employees who have worked at NZAS for many years have a wealth of information that needs to be captured before they leave NZAS.  This knowledge is often difficult to capture in a single lesson due to the complexity of the task.  Still camera shots have often been used; however this technique doesn’t always adequately describe the details of the task.

In late 2014 the use of a Go Pro small video player was trialled to capture short-duration videos (30 seconds to two minutes) for tasks undertaken by Colin McKee while training Kulbir Singh (Analytical & Monitoring Services).  This was moderately successful as it was able to demonstrate in real time a multi-step procedure while also capturing via audio the intricacies of each step and therefore the whole task.

From small beginnings, and with the addition of a 3D gimbal to provide better visual quality and on-line programs to seamlessly sequence multiple short duration video clips, the use of video has enabled the capture of 30+ years of OES/quanto knowledge from Colin.  These small videos have been used not only for training Kulbir, but also for Maintainers and Schedulers for tasks they are required to undertake/maintain on the OES/quanto on the back shifts.

A schedule has now been developed to use the Go Pro video for capturing a multitude of tasks associated with the OES/quanto, including those tasks which seldom occur.

Metallurgist Technician Kulbir Singh, says, “These videos are particularly beneficial for the tasks that I do once or twice a year in my work area.  One example is isolation of quantometers - it reminds me of different isolation points and the sequence of isolation at different points which is very crucial.  I carry my tablet with me and watch the two-minute clip before isolating the equipment which saves me a lot of time.”

These short video clips are now fully available and can be accessed prior to undertaking a specific task.  This provides employees with a more complete understanding of what is required for the task at hand.

Where does our metal go?

Have you ever wondered where our aluminium ends up and whether or not we export to the same countries each year?

In 2015 NZAS metal was exported to 25 countries, four of which we didn’t send any product to in 2014.

Last year 60% of NZAS aluminium was sent to Japan and Korea (on the monthly bulk ship) - 8% less than in 2014.  Conversely we exported significantly more aluminium to China than the previous year (7.1% in 2015 compared with only 0.06% in 2014). 

The majority of our metal is cast to customer requirements, either pure aluminium or aluminium alloys, and is exported to domestic and international markets where it will be used for a wide variety of products such as the Japanese N700 series bullet train, automotive wheels, Hamilton Jet and auto components, food packaging, display monitors and lighting applications.  Our high purity aluminium is used in critical aircraft parts such as wing structures, as well as smart devices, electric car components and computer hard drives.

The following countries received NZAS metal in2015:

  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Ecuador
  • France
  • Great Britain
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Philippines
  • Romania
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • USA
  • Vietnam

If you think your old mobile phone is rubbish, think again!

For a number of years NZAS has been part of the Starship Mobile Phone Appeal.  To date we have donated 230 phones, made up of old work phones as well as ones personally donated from our employees.  So thank you to everyone who has donated.  We have played a part in raising over $2.5 million for the Starship Foundation.

Now that the Starship Mobile Phone Appeal has come to an end, Swapkit, the company who runs the phone appeal programme, have selected a new charity – Sustainable Coastlines.  Sustainable Coastlines is a New Zealand charity whose 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.  They also help other volunteer groups to run their own events around New Zealand and the Pacific.

So, if you have any mobile phones you no longer want, please consider donating them to the Sustainable Coastlines Mobile Phone Appeal.  Ask friends and family if they have any unwanted mobiles they’d like to donate too.  The collection box is located in Andrea Carson’s office (Operations Building).  It’s such a small act that really can make a difference.

Winter sports - can you recognise the signs of concussion?

Now that the winter sports season is well and truly underway how do you know if someone is concussed?  Concussion is the most common head injury and can occur with or without loss of consciousness.  Check out the information below:

Recognise and remove

Concussion should be suspected if one or more of the following visible clues, signs, symptoms or errors in memory questions are present.

1. Visible clues of suspected concussion:

  • Loss of consciousness or responsiveness
  • Lying motionless on ground / slow to get up
  • Unsteady on feet / balance problems or falling over, uncoordinated
  • Grabbing /clutching of head
  • Dazed, blank or vacant look
  • Confused / not aware of plays or events

2. Signs and symptoms of suspected concussion:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headache
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Drowsiness
  • ‘Pressure in head’
  • More emotional
  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sadness
  • Amnesia
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Feeling ‘in a fog’
  • Nervous or anxious
  • Neck pain
  • ‘Don’t feel right’
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Difficulty concentrating

3. Memory function
(failure to answer any of these questions correctly may suggest a concussion):

  • What venue are we at today?
  • Which half is it now?
  • Who scored last in this game?
  • What team did you play last week / game?
  • Did your team win the last game?


Any player with a suspected concussion should be IMMEDIATELY REMOVED FROM PLAY and should not be returned to activity until they are assessed medically.  Players with a suspected concussion should not be left alone and should not drive a motor vehicle.

It is recommended that in all cases of suspected concussion, the player is referred to a medical professional for diagnosis and guidance as well as return to play decisions, even if the symptoms resolve.


If ANY of the following are reported then the player should be safely and immediately removed from the field.  If no qualified medical professional is available, consider transporting by ambulance for urgent medical assessment:

  • Athlete complains of neck pain
  • Deteriorating conscious state
  • Increasing confusion or irritability
  • Severe or increasing headache
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Unusual behaviour change
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Double vision
  • Weakness or tingling/burning in arms or legs


  • In all cases, the basic principles of first aid (danger, response, airway, breathing, circulation) should be followed
  • Do not attempt to move the player (other than required for airway support) unless trained to do so
  • Do not remove helmet (if present) unless trained to do so

It is important to do everything you can to reduce the risk of concussion.  Safe techniques should be practiced at all times in high contact sports.  Wearing a custom made mouth guard may reduce the risk of concussion.  It is important to remember that rugby headgear is not designed to prevent concussion.

New Starter – April to June 2016

Welcome to: Brendon McCabe – Tradesperson Electrical/RCO – Power Supply

David Edmiston – Tour of Duty


David Edmiston would rather face the heat of a Reduction Line than the heat of battle.  Its more than four years since he lost two good mates in the Battle of Baghak in Afghanistan but David will never forget them.  Now after contracting at NZAS for 2.5 years in Reduction David is happy to have swapped his fatigues for PPE.

Straight out of High School, David completed NZ Army, basic training and Combat Core training, something he says was, “like basic training on steroids.”  After being posted to the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles as an Armoured Crewman in Burnham, Christchurch, David formed strong bonds with his fellow soldiers.

At the beginning of 2012 David completed three months pre-deployment training before being shipped to Afghanistan as part of a 150-strong regiment.

David and his regiment rotated between three different bases over the eight months of his tour, “We definitely struck a few bad situations on the trip.  For the very small province that we patrolled there was a very active Taliban presence.  On patrols we found a lot of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device or homemade bombs) dug into the roads as well as enemy points in the hills that overlooked the roads we were patrolling.

On 4 August 2012 I was involved in the Battle of Baghak - while we were out on patrol in a valley we were ambushed by Taliban.  That's definitely a day I will never forget.  The crashing sound of heavy gun fire coming from both ends and soldiers screaming trying to help each other and do their job or screaming because they were wounded - it really was chaos and I don't think all the training in the world could prepare you for that kind of real life situation.

We lost two soldiers that day Corporal Rory Malone, and our good friend who lived with us back in Christchurch, Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer.  Six other soldiers were wounded and sent home.  It was hard to come to terms with what had happened but we were all pretty lucky to be surrounded by our good mates to help deal with the tough times.

Just a few weeks later on 18 August another New Zealand patrol was hit.  This time a New Zealand Humvee patrol travelling between two bases.  The rear Humvee was hit by an IED killing the 3 soldiers inside, Corporal Luck Tamatea, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris.  This was another huge blow for the contingent and morale was very low, but once again we pulled together and got the job done.”

David was posted back to base at the end of October 2012 with a feeling of great relief.  It was after his trip to Afghanistan that he made the decision to leave the Army.

In 2014 David began contracting at NZAS, “I’ve learnt so much here and met some great people.  It’s a whole new world away from the Army, which I am enjoying,” he says. “When you lose some of your closest friends to a silly game like war you have to ask is it really worth it?  And I believe it’s not.”

NZAS gives a helping hand to the RSA

Thirteen NZAS employees helped the Invercargill RSA to sell poppies on Poppy Day in April - a great opportunity to represent NZAS in the local community and more importantly to support a cause that is close to all of our hearts.  Annual Poppy Days and ultimately ANZAC Days give us the chance to remember and honour the service and sacrifice of so many New Zealanders and Australians who served during the wars.  

Cindy Kennedy, Poppy Appeal Convenor, Invercargill RSA, was delighted with NZAS’ support, “I would like you to know how grateful we are to have your support for our Annual Poppy Day Street Appeal.  Without volunteers from corporate companies we would not be able to cover our city with collectors on the day.”

Have you ever wondered why poppies are used to commemorate ANZAC Day?  During WWI much of the fighting took place in Western Europe with previously beautiful countryside bombed and fought over, again and again.  The landscape quickly turned into fields of mud, where little or nothing could grow.  Bright red Flanders poppies were delicate but resilient flowers and grew in their thousands, flourishing even in the middle of all the chaos and destruction.  In the spring of 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lt Col John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies and wrote a now famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’.  The poppies from the poem inspired an American academic, Moina Michael, to make handmade red silk poppies which were then brought to England by a French woman, Anna Guerin.  The British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered 9 million of the poppies which were sold on Armistice Day that year.  The poppies sold out almost immediately and that first ever ‘Poppy Appeal’ raised over £106k, which was a huge amount of money at the time. 

Poppy Day has been part of the NZ calendar since 1922, making it one of the oldest nationwide appeals.  The proceeds support veterans as well as ex-service people and their families in need.

Sailing away …

Metal Products’ Colin McDonald has been sailing for around 30 years.  He’s South Island Vice President for the NZ Trailer Yacht Association and the Publicity Officer for the Southland Trailer Yacht Squadron.  So you can see his heart is definitely in it.

He goes out on the water as often as he can, which in the busy part of the sailing season can be every weekend for six weeks or so with a weekend off then back to the boat again.  “It’s a great sport with a lot of great people involved,” he says.

Colin’s current yacht is a 25 foot Noelex 25 called 'Scalliwag'.  It has a self-tacking head sail which makes it easy to sail and according to Colin, Scalliwag sleeps two very comfortably and four if you are good friends.

A previous member of Bluff Yacht Club, Colin now sails for Marakura Yacht Club at Te Anau, but when asked where his favourite place to sail is he recalls some of his best memories cruising in Bluff Harbour with workmates.  “Te Anau is also great – there are lots of different options there,” he says.

Colin has done his fair share of racing over the years, mostly in Otago and Southland.  His best result was at the NZ Trailer Yacht NZ Champs where he won Division B in both Line Honours and the Handicap results.  “I was very pleased with this result as I beat several yachts the same as mine who usually give me a hurry up,” he says.

Colin is always looking to take other people sailing.  “It’s not all about racing but cruising as well.  The Whitsundays off the Queensland Coast was great.  Nice winds though strong at times, warm weather even in the middle of winter and nice warm water.  We were sailing in shorts, t-shirts and bare feet.”

Sounds pretty idyllic to us, Colin.

Fire Brigade Open Day

The Tiwai Industrial Fire Brigade held an Open Day on site in early June.  It was a great success as the Crew 2 fire squad now has two new recruits, Daniel Moody (Carbon Rodding) and Robert Carson (Line 2).  However, we are still looking for new fire-fighters on Roster 2, particularly Crew 2.  If you are interested in joining, please contact Ross Ferguson on x 5559.

Clayton Talamahina, a potential new recruit, is pictured testing his skills during the Open Day.  Special thanks to the Crew 1 fire-fighters for putting on a great demonstration.


Our People

Name: Skye Niania
Position:  Reduction Line 1 Crew Leader

How long have you worked at NZAS?
3 years

What would you do if you won Lotto?
Buy a nice car and a house, maybe a holiday too

What is your favourite food?

What is your favourite leisure activity?
Spending time with my family

What’s your biggest achievement in life so far?
Becoming a father

What’s your favourite NZ holiday spot & why?
Stewart Island - I like the scenery and peace and quiet

What were your career aspirations when you were a child?
To become a chef

What was your first job?
Clean-up boy at a butchery

What is your favourite song?
Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd

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

My Lunch Rules

Kim Watters and the Lab team have not only been eating like kings lately, they’ve also teamed up with Invercargill’s Ronald McDonald Family Room to provide much-needed food donations every month.

After watching one-too-many episodes of My Kitchen Rules, Kim decided to put her team-mates up to the challenge with 'My Lunch Rules'.  She enlisted the participation of 14 people and had each person bring in a sharing plate on an allocated day over a period of three weeks.

The competition was fierce with dishes such as honey and lemon pulled pork, lamb sliders, pumpkin pie and goat curry competing against each other day after day.  “Holey Moley! What amazing food we ate for three weeks,” says Kim.  “Everyone loved the dishes so much we decided to create a My Lunch Rules recipe book so we could each recreate them at home to share with our families.”

Each dish was judged both by the participants and a secret guest judge on site - culinary connoisseur Grant Cuff.  And after a harrowing few weeks, the winner of the 'My Lunch Ruled' title was Josh Kingipotiki, with his “incredible marinated venison back strap with mango and bacon salad”.

While the competition was running Kim discovered that Invercargill’s Ronald McDonald Family Room was in real need of simple household items and put it to her team that they could each contribute something from their grocery shop that week.  “Just like all my other crazy ideas they embraced it,” says Kim.  “We each picked one or two things on the list to donate and this was used as payment for our own copies of the My Lunch Rules recipe booklet.”

“It’s been such a cool thing to do we have decided to make the donations to the Family Room a regular thing.  It’s pretty easy to put an extra pack of cereal or some tinned fruit in your basket when you do your shop - especially when we all know it’s going directly to help the Invercargill Ronald McDonald Family Room,” says Kim.

My Lunch Rules recipe books will be available from Kim for a small contribution or donation of a wish-list grocery item for the Ronald McDonald Family Room.  If you're interested give Kim a call on x 5604.

Bowled over ...

Congratulations to the victorious team of (from left) Ray Blake, Mike (Cowboy) Lindsey and Paul Howden, who were the winners of Crew 1 Line 2 social club's recent bowls event at the Waverly Bowls Club.

It was such a success that they hope to make it an annual event.

Welcome to winter!

Check out the stunning sky/rainbow combination taken recently looking towards the alumina store.  Winter is here!