The $60 million expansion at SCA Kawerau is a big vote of confidence in the town and the wider Bay of Plenty, says local MP Todd McClay.
Mr McClay was among about 100 people who attended the official expansion opening at the tissue production site yesterday.
He said SCA Hygiene Australasia could have invested the money anywhere in New Zealand or Australia so it was "a big vote of confidence" that it chose Kawerau.
Mr McClay said that was due to the "hardworking and experienced workforce" in the town and wider region, the strong local council backing and the site's proximity to geothermal resources, forests and the Port of Tauranga.
SCA Hygiene Australasia president Peter Diplaris said the expansion would secure a Kiwi-made future for its popular toilet and tissue brands and boost local exports of some products.
"Kiwis who have grown up with household names such as Purex and Handee as well as professional hygiene brands such as Tork, can feel good knowing the tissues are Kiwi-made under the highest quality standards while utilising the renewable forestry stocks of the Bay of Plenty and sustaining more than 200 jobs here in Kawerau," Mr Diplaris said.
The expansion includes a new 13,000m2 tissue conversion hall, a 55m-long state-of-the art Italian-made tissue winding machine and robotised packing and dispatch and is a major strategic investment for the Australasian company.
"This expansion secures a long-term future for our Kawerau site as the sustainable supplier for the New Zealand and Australian markets. It also confirms the site's significant export role with an estimated 2600 containers of product exported through the Port of Tauranga each year," Mr Diplaris said.
Total output from the site will initially increase by the equivalent of 66 12m containers each week, with an additional 11 per week to be added from 2015 onwards. The site's increased efficiency will add to the major gains in sustainability made over recent years.
Mr Diplaris said the skilled, knowledgeable and committed local workforce was a further factor in the company's decision to invest in the Kawerau facility.
"I wish to pay particular tribute to the project team, site employees and the army of local and international suppliers. We have kept everyone safe through more than 175,000 hours of work while also delivering this major undertaking on time and on budget."