The Invercargill Economy

Of late, I have been rather light on posts mainly due to being away for all last week in Invercargill (bottom of the South Island) where I was the manager of the King’s College 1st XI Hockey team which won the NZ Secondary Schools Hockey Championship – see photo. Whilst there it was interesting to see what drives the local economy.

As with a lot of the South Island communities agriculture remains an integral part of the Invercargill economy. Although sheep is the most important stock that is farmed there have been increaseing numbers of dairy units as well as beef and deer farming. The main reason for the regrowth in the dairy industry was the increased demand for New Zealand milk, cheese and butter. New dairy factories have opened around Invercargill, as well as more efficient meat processing works and research and development facilities.

Diversification has also led to growth in horticulture, fishing, forestry, tourism and manufacturing. New Zealand’s only aluminium smelter, which is a major contributor to Invercargill’s economy, is at Tiwai Point near Bluff, and is powered by electricity from the vast underground power station at Lake Manapouri.

The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter is owned by New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited and was opened in 1971. It is one of the 20 largest aluminium smelters of the world and currently provides NZ$3.65 billion worth of economic benefit to the New Zealand economy. It produces the world’s highest purity primary (i.e. directly refined made from alumina ore) aluminium. The ore is mostly imported from Australia, while the finished product mostly goes to Japan. In 2009, approximately 750 full time personnel were employed, and 120 contractors. Wikipedia.

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