John Key says his day in Kawerau and Rotorua was a great chance to get out of Wellington and see first-hand the innovation of local companies.

The Prime Minister officially opened the $60 million expansion of the SCA Kawerau Tissue site yesterday morning - pressing the start button on a new tissue winding machine.

He then returned to Rotorua, where he met staff at wood products company Verda before ending his day with afternoon tea at Red Stag Timber.

Mr Key said it was important to make such visits as policies and laws made in Wellington had to be practically applied in workplaces.

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He said he was impressed with what he had seen.

"It's interesting to see what New Zealand companies are doing ... the innovation."

At the SCA Kawerau opening, Mr Key said if New Zealand was going to compete and win on the world stage it needed to be doing exactly what SCA was doing. "I congratulate them and encourage them to keep doing more and growing."

He welcomed this week's announcement of an industry-led Forest Industry Workplace Safety Review, following the workplace deaths of 10 forestry workers last year.

"Some of the people killed have come from this part of the world. They might have been your neighbours or friends, or related to your family," he said. "We are going to make sure that [Crown agent] WorkSafe New Zealand plays its role in supporting that review."

At the Verda processing factory on Te Ngae Rd, Mr Key was taken on a walkabout to see the company's pine products, chatting and joking with workers.

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He then watched a presentation by managing director Grant Butterworth about the company's involvement in a recovery project in the Japanese town of Rikuzen Takada - "obliterated" in the 2011 tsunami - followed by an informal chat on issues facing the wood processing industry. There was just time for a few photo opportunities before Mr Key, accompanied throughout the day by local MP Todd McClay, went on to Red Stag then boarded a flight back to Wellington.