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Tiwai Point whanau come first - Te Tai Tonga candidate

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Takuta Ferris, Te Tai Tonga candidate for the Māori Party, is urging government to place whānau first in the wake of announcements around Tiwai Point.

"The declaration that one of the region's major employers the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter is closing will be a major setback for the government, prompting fresh talk around impending economic uncertainty".

"This is a region which has just come out of a period in which their circumstances were defined by their circumstances in having the most significant cluster of COVID-19 cases; in the aftermath of the wedding in Bluff".

"But we have to remember that the Southland economy is not dependent on aluminium. There are other options: the agriculture and fishing sector are also large employers; manufacturing and aquaculture are also viable".

"The comments from Invercargill deputy mayor Toni Biddle that suggest a potential loss of 2260 jobs, require urgent attention at national and local government level.

"The deep seaport of Bluff has been an economic engine for Awarua whānau for generations. Government and Southland Regional council needs to have an emergency intervention now, to scope out alternatives, to set up a job’s taskforce for Murihiku; to support a more diversified economic solution across the Southern region.

"The smelter has had a massive impact on our Southern families for close to fifty years. Generations of whānau have given their working lives to Tiwai Point.

"Deputy Mayor Biddle is calling for a contingency game-plan. The Māori Party supports her call and wants to ensure that local Papatipu Runaka and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu are invited to participate as key stakeholders for whānau in the region".

"The loss of direct jobs and the impacts on their whānau are profound. Their recovery: their ability to be restored into full employment, must place whānau first in any response plan to withstand the adverse effects of closure".

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