Whakatāne Mill to stay open under new owner

Whakatāne Mill will stay open with the sale to the new owner now finalised.

The mill, one of the largest employers in the region, has been bought by The Smurfit Consortium with the buyout announced on Monday.

More than 150 people are employed at the mill, which is long established for producing folding box board and has been running since the 1930s.

Longstanding E tū delegate for 20 years at the site, Robert de Raat, says most are pleased the mill will not be closing.

“There are families where three or four generations have worked at the mill, and people want to see this employment opportunity stay for their kids.”

E tū organiser for Whakatāne Mill, Fiona McQueen, says there’s a sense of relief the months of uncertainty have come to an end.

“People wanted the doors to stay open so that jobs could remain in this community, and we have worked with the company to make sure there’s good outcomes and benefits for all involved.”

Assistant National Secretary for E tū Annie Newman says although the mill’s future is now secure, the upheaval in many industries, due to factors such as globalisation and climate change, highlights the need for a national strategy around the concept of a ‘Just Transition’ for workers.

“We need to ensure the future of work is about decent jobs and income stability – making sure people are prepared for change and have the opportunities to upskill and retrain when needed.

“Their voices also need to be at the heart of creating the solutions that will guide their working futures.”