Whakatane is a small town of about 38,000 people, in the Bay of Plenty. It has a paper mill which uses logs to make paper and cardboard. The mill opened in 1939 and at that time mostly made paper including newsprint. Now it makes packaging, especially food packages made from clean cardboard, to replace the use of plastic. The mill employs 210 people. These people will lose their jobs when the mill closes in June. Other people like truck drivers and local shop keepers depend on this business too. This is bad news for Whakatane. There are not many other job opportunities in a small town.
Why is the mill closing? Probably a number of reasons. It is now owned by a Swiss company which also owns other bigger paper mills in Europe and Asia. They say it is not viable to keep this small mill open.
There are a number of pine plantations in the Bay of Plenty which supply the logs for the mill. These pine trees grow quickly. They are ready to be cut down in about 25 years. People (mostly men) in the logging business, cut down the trees. Machines are used to remove the branches, leaving just the logs. These logs are loaded onto logging trucks and taken to the mill. More pine trees are planted in the same area.
Because New Zealand grows these trees quickly, many of the logs are exported. Other countries may buy our logs for their paper mills.
mill: a factory which makes flour, paper, steel
logs: wood from trees
plantation: a kind of farm that grows things such as cotton, sugar, tea, coffee and wood