Smelter committed to supporting community

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 28/09/2013

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A New Zealand Aluminium Smelters boss says the Tiwai Pt plant will continue to support the community in the near future.

NZ Aluminium Smelters general manager Gretta Stephens said the smelter would be the major sponsor of the Southland Science and Technology Fair for the next three years and this week had marked the sixth year of an educational partnership with Southland Girls' High School.

"It has been a desire at the smelter to stay operating in Southland and that includes being a strong members of the community," Mrs Stephens said.

The smelter had been the major sponsor of the fair for 11 years, contributing more than $80,000 towards science and technology in Southland. Under the new agreement, sponsorship had been increased to $7000 a year.

NZ Aluminium Smelters staff also volunteered at the fair.

"Our involvement gives our employees an opportunity to participate in a wonderful community event," she said.

This week the smelter hosted two year-13 students as part of an annual initiative to encourage females into the engineering industry. Since the initiative started in 2008, about 29 students had participated, with 12 going on to get engineering jobs.

"I was excited to hear so many young women are getting into engineering after their time here," Mrs Stephens said.

Students Maddy Furness and Lydia Ward were on site for seven days learning the ropes, taking on projects in metal products and reduction cells.

They also met female staff at the smelter to learn about career paths in science and engineering.

"It's hard to understand what goes on [at the smelter] without seeing the process for yourself," Maddy said. "It's more than design and physics; it includes health and safety, a lot of observation and getting your hands dirty."

Southland Girls' head of physics Paul King said the two girls told him the smelter had "showed them what they learned in class was useful and real".

He said the school encouraged pupils to get into a career such as engineering, where he believed there would be many jobs in the future.

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- The Southland Times

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