All options on the table for Whakatane mill

Following last week’s announcement the Whakatane Mill will be closing, Labour MPs Tamati Coffey, Kiri Allan and Stuart Nash (not pictured) have held meetings to see what can be done to save the 210 jobs on the line. SUPPLIED

All options are still on the table for Whakatane Mill, says East Coast MP Kiri Allan following meetings with unions, staff, and the leadership board.

The Whakatane community was shocked last week when more than 200 staff were presented with a proposal to close the mill, which will see them all made redundant by the end of June.

The mill has been an intergenerational employer in Whakatane for more than 80 years and produces paper and packaging products.

Over the weekend, Allan, Minister for Forestry, and Economic and Regional Development Stuart Nash, and Labour MP Tamati Coffey, met with mill leaders to see if anything could be done to save the struggling business.

Yesterday, Allan met with the workers and their unions, E Tu and First Union.

She says a lot of the employees, particularly young people just starting out, are feeling a lot of stress and uncertainty.

“Many were shocked to hear the news; they didn’t even know the mill was for sale,” says Allan.

“They are worried about mortgages and many have just begun to start families and are the main breadwinner, so there is a lot of stress about that.

“For the older guys who have been through redundancies before, they are focused on making sure the process goes as smoothly as possible. There are a lot of wise heads down there; they have a tight-knit workforce, and they are wanting to look out for each other.”

Estimates are that, beyond the 210 direct employees, there are also up to 100 direct contractors and many other businesses that support them indirectly.

Following the discussions with stakeholders, Allan has identified several workstreams.

These are investigating other options for the mill to remain open, supporting employees, investigating other employment sources for the employees and looking at issues the industry is facing as a whole.

Discussions have also been had with the mayors of Whakatane and Kawerau, iwi entities, and other potential employers.

Allan would not go into detail about what products the mill could potentially pivot towards producing, however, many in Whakatane have suggested sustainable packaging as an option.

While talks occur about how to keep the mill open, unions will be looking at how to support workers and how the Government can best help with that.

Allan says this could take the form of financial, emotional, or skills and training support through Government agencies.

She also says it's important to ensure the families of affected employees also received emotional support.

Going forward, weekly discussions will be held with all stakeholders as work is done to determine what viable options there are for the mill.

“All options are on the table."

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Whakatane Mill

Posted on 03-03-2021 17:20 | By Danny1954

Kia Ora. Understand community frustration about the closure.Lets lift ourselves up and walk again.Opportunities out there and I am keen to share with Council district and businesses what is available in New Zealand.

Tom Ranger

Posted on 03-03-2021 14:36 | By Tom Ranger

@ Johnney I’ll give you the basics of the meeting. Meeting 1) Is there anything we can help with regarding this business you’ve been running for 80 years? We have experts on the pay-roll! Meeting 2) Well...we can’t reduce your tax-burden and we just increased your staffing costs permanently soo umm. How much tax-payer money would keep your business open and mouth closed for the first year?

A joke

Posted on 03-03-2021 11:43 | By Johnney

So the Board Mills have been in business for 80 years and the government been in power for five minutes. Honestly are the Board Mills going to listen to this inept bunch of clowns. They couldn’t run a circus but watching them is entertaining.

Political theatre

Posted on 03-03-2021 10:43 | By Kancho

Not very hopeful for a good outcome. Companies don’t start down this road at a whim. Productivity and financial viability is their angle. Meetings and talk from political figures doesn’t change the facts. Dare say the plant is also old and needs revamping? Well sorry for the workers and contractors. Hope some jobs can be found but a lot of affected people so best of luck


Posted on 03-03-2021 10:15 | By Carcass

Labour can’t see what they are doing wrong and the decisions they are making. Everything to reduce productivity which N Z has the lowest in the world which reflects in lower living standards and businesses closing because of low performance. Worse to come under Labour.

Tom Ranger

Posted on 03-03-2021 09:17 | By Tom Ranger

@Johnney - Govt causes more problems than they ever solve. Unfortunately I believe they know exactly what the ramifications are...and do it anyway! While trying to give us confusing mis-information and straight out lies! Increasing min wage is of a very very temporary benefit to those earners. But it will cost everyone! Including them! Forever more! They’ve successfully put a wedge within society here. Low wage earners VS the rest. I have to tip my hat to them for convincing the ignorant public they are trustworthy and have you at heart. They have taxes at heart. You come second.

What a joke

Posted on 03-03-2021 09:17 | By bruce.b

Labour what a joke you lot are you go into a meeting with people that know the type of manufacturing they able to do and they have contacts all over the world, what experience do you lot have in regards what Whakatane Mill do and able to do nothing.

Typical Labour

Posted on 03-03-2021 08:36 | By GWHtpt

So to put it bluntly, they came up with nothing !!!! Stop beating around the bush you had a meeting and went into it with no plan, and solved nothing. More of Labours doing here.

Extra holidays and leave

Posted on 03-03-2021 08:14 | By Johnney

So the government introduce mor vote catching leave entitlements and a public holiday then wonder why some businesses close up. They haven’t got a clue regarding fallout of their decision making.

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