Southland is gearing up for change. Like in many of our regional communities, all sorts of global and local forces are creating doubt for workers of the future, particularly with employment opportunities.
Tiwai Point aluminium smelter is one of the biggest employers in the region, and it provides hundreds of jobs at the smelter and at the local businesses that work alongside it. Over the years, the smelter has announced an imminent closure a number of times, and the long term prospects of keeping the smelter open remain uncertain.
What would a closure mean for the Southland community? What other opportunities will there be for meaningful employment? These are the questions E tū is working with workers and community stakeholders to answer. Another group that is active in Southland’s Just Transition conversation is Murihiku Regeneration.
A project by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Murihiku Regeneration focusses on a prosperous and sustainable future for people in the Southland region. E tū is working closely with Murihiku Regeneration to ensure that the Just Transition in Southland is truly led by workers and their communities.
Murihiku Regeneration’s work goes beyond Tiwai. The group is also focused on community development and education, opportunities for building regional leadership systems, and exploring new and exciting ideas for green energy and other sustainable, growing industries.
Our E tū Co-Presidents Muriel Tunoho and Don Pryde, visited Southland to launch our collaboration agreement with Murihiku Regeneration in 2021. Since then, we have been meeting regularly to discuss strategies and engage with stakeholders from the not-for-profit sector, and public and private sectors about the Just Transition process in Southland.
Ivan Hodgetts is the Southland/Otago Ministry of Education Principal Advisor Secondary Transitions. He is leading Murihiku Regeneration’s Te Ara Aukati Kore (Pathways without barriers) programme. As an educationalist, Ivan emphasises inclusive education, underpinned by a focus on identity, hope and purpose for all learners. Ivan says…
Murihiku Regeneration’s four pou: Social, Cultural, Environment, and Economic, underpin our approach to education and training. We see education and training as the mechanisms to build capability up and through our four pou.
Our education programme Te Ara Aukati Kore (Pathways Without Barriers) is about working to ensure that whānau are supported and enabled to build the capability they need to make the most of the opportunities available now and into the future – opportunities in work, but also more broadly opportunities to enrich life socially and culturally. We do not want people to be treated as if they are just a kind of widget with skills to do a task in a job.
An authentically whanau-centric approach to capability development must also ensure that the labour market and societal context fairly rewards people for their contribution. Decent, life affirming work should be located in the context of a person’s social, cultural, whānau, and community life. This is why we are encouraged by E tū’s focus on Decent Work.