Kawerau now knows the Tasman mill, owned by Norwegian-based Norske Skog, will definitely be closing at the end of the month with 160 job losses.
The town was purpose-built as a mill town in the late 1950s but after 70 years the mill is no longer viable. The demand for newsprint has plummeted.
I lived in Kawerau in the 1980s. The town had two mills then - Tasman Pulp and Paper Company and Caxton - and between them they employed around 1800 workers, Tasman being the bigger employer.
It was a great community, full of activity, children and bustling with busy, hard-working people.
It was a diverse community too. People from all parts of New Zealand with a good sprinkling of overseas families as well.
Permanent mill workers earned big money in Kawerau, and when certain parts of the mill closed for repairs and maintenance "the shuts" additional workers from out of town swelled its numbers.
Times were good even with industrial strikes occurring on a regular basis. Big earners spend big and Kawerau workers were no exception.
This was reflected in the warm welcome mill workers received from businesses in Whakatāne, Rotorua, and wider afield.
Everyone left town on their days off to spend. Cars and trucks were the latest models and holidays overseas common.
Every sporting activity was available to families with "Uncle Tasman", in particular, being a benevolent sponsor of uniforms and equipment.
The town had three Credit Unions, Tasman's being the second biggest in New Zealand at the time, and I recall the high number of Māori children who went to boarding school.
Most people you talk to now will tell you they knew the closure was inevitable, as each one of the three paper machines was shut down.
Some put it more bluntly saying the town has been slowly dying for the past 20 years, only now the coffin lid is finally coming down.
Ask anyone who grew up in a mill town in New Zealand in the 60s and 70s and they will regale you with memories of a safe and carefree childhood.
Many consider they had a head start in life.
In Kawerau, children had the Tarawera River on their back doorstep for play and fun - upstream from the mill that is.
You stayed clear of it downstream from the mill, colloquially known as the "black drain", because it was polluted from mill effluent discharged into the river.
This has been a disturbing factor that has caused significant sadness and distress particularly to the three iwi of the river: Te Arawa, Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau and Ngati Awa.
The cultural stories of their ancestors tell of a river that provided for everyday needs, gathering food and fishing, and swimming in pristine waters.
It sustained them over the centuries. In recent years there has been work undertaken to return the river closer to its natural state.
This will take decades, at the height of mill operations 160 million litres of industrial waste spewed into the Tarawera River every day.
The river was hit hard and it suffered and paid a significant environmental cost as the years went by.
The three local iwi with kin relationships to the river, embedded in their identity and lives, were deprived of and lost the opportunity to exercise their customs and practices in relation to the river.
Today we know the downside to the operations of a paper mill, and the importance of a cultural impact assessment to the business case.
Had these been well known back then, and championed vigorously, I believe the mill might never have been built.
It was sold to local iwi as jobs for their mokopuna and the iwi voices that tried to raise valid reasons to oppose planning and consents for the mill's construction were silenced.
In the end, Iwi went further and amalgamated their land interests into the entity known as Maori Investments Ltd.
Initially, Maori Investments worked along with Tasman Pulp and Paper Company and the Crown-owned Tarawera Forests, the provider of logs for the mill.
Now it is a wholly-owned and controlled subsidiary of Maori Investments Ltd.
Thousands of jobs were created over the years and large profits returned to the mill's owners.
These have come at the destruction of a priceless pristine river, centuries in the making. The Tarawera river paid the ultimate price.
Note: Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is a shareholder of Maori Investments Ltd.