Kawerau is a hard-knock town, the landlocked heart of the Bay of Plenty on the road between Rotorua and Whakatāne, shuttling wood products to the Port of Tauranga.
I cut my teeth there as a community news reporter a decade or so ago.
It was a rich environment for news - New Zealand's smallest, youngest territorial authority had a lot going on.
Beneath the headline-making crime, suicide, unemployment and deprivation that stigmatised the district in recent decades was a close-knit and proud community with a lot of people working hard to give the next generation better opportunities than they had.
There was once a revolt after a particularly unsympathetic TV news report on the state of the town, which only ever made the national news for the wrong reasons.
Through all that, however, the spectre of the end of the mill the town was founded in 1953 to serve was never far away.
This week, that end became nigh.
Norske Skog confirmed the Tasman mill would shut at the end of the month, with the remaining 160 jobs to go.
No one was surprised; the mill had been winding down for decades.
Not everyone who works at the mill is from Kawerau, but the fortunes of the town had long been tied to the success of its main industry.
The population peaked in the early 1980s at about 8500 and began dwindling, in step with the economic fortunes of the mill.
Like most Central North Island towns, it had a bump in the last Census cycle likely resulting from the housing affordability-driven exodus from Auckland - not that long ago you could pick up a decent property in Kawerau for $150,000; now it's more like $350,000.
But with the economic writing on the wall, over the past decade or two Kawerau has been trying to diversify its industry and employment options, to step outside the ''mill town'' moniker.
It hopes to attract industries with the clean, green, sustainable steam of its power-generating geothermal field, and to capitalise on its central position in the Bay of Plenty by creating a new container terminal that would provide a link for goods produced in the Eastern Bay to get to the Port of Tauranga via rail, rather than road.
There is still confidence from leaders in the town that this will be a winning strategy.
The test of their planning has begun.
But what becomes of Kawerau in the meantime?
It has lost its biggest ratepayer - the impact of which the council says it is still analysing.
For years, Kawerau has been an island, wholly surrounded by the Whakatāne District, an oasis of low rates and low debt thanks to its youthful infrastructure.
It once made sense to have a standalone local authority for the single major local industry to deal with, but the case for that will be greatly depleted by the mill closure.
There will be those, however, who would see absorbing Kawerau into the Whakatāne District as the real beginning of the end for a town with a strong, unique identity.
It is a resilient town and I think it can survive this great test, but whether it can remain a district in its own right depends on how successfully it can make itself anew.
Time will tell.