Waiariki MP Rawiri Waititi has adopted a "Whānau Ora approach" to addressing the Whakatāne Mill closure.
Yesterday management at Whakatāne Mill Limited (WML) broke the news that just over 210 staff would be made redundant, most by the end of June.
Waititi this morning said he has called on key stakeholders in Whakatāne to attend a hui to "understand how the different pieces of the puzzle are working and how we can all work together within our respective workstreams to ensure our whānau have all the support available to them".
"As soon as I heard about the potential closure, it made sense to invite everyone to the table. It's the only way we can succeed – by working together.
"Our meetings have been occurring weekly and are well attended by the likes of Whakatāne mayor Judy Taylor, [East Coast MP] Kiritapu Allan, and council and union representatives.
"These hui provide a forum for a collaborative, solution-focussed kōrero that is truly whānau-centred," he said.
The mill is Whakatāne's largest private employer and has, for more than 80 years, produced paper and packaging products, mostly for export.
The company told the media there was no buyer for the mill and no viable option was found during the consultation process, and the decision was reached with a heavy heart.
"The mill closure is a huge blow for Whakatāne," Waititi said.
"All 210 staff to be made redundant have families. They have partners, children, grandchildren and so the impact of this closure will be wide-reaching.
"Whakatāne is still recovering from the impact of the Whakaari eruption and more recently, Apanui School burning down and now this. Whakatāne has quite literally been through the wars."
Waititi said there had been talk about establishing a transition programme bringing relevant agencies and organisations together to work with all individuals on their specific needs and aspirations: "Things like financial literacy, transition into other employment or training, CV support, upskilling in licensing, counselling support".
"We need to be proactive, putting politics and egos aside to work together over the next two and a half months to release as much pressure as possible from our whānau while supporting them towards tangible solutions and pathways," he said.
"I will be deploying my team to support the coordination of these efforts and will ensure from my end that all relevant agencies in the region are going above and beyond to take care of our people."
The company will stop production on June 21 and then begin decommissioning the plant. The expected final closure date is June 30.
General manager Juha Verajankorva said it was a "very tough day for all of us".
Verajankorva said all staff at the mill would be made redundant, and most would complete their roles by the end of June. A small group would be retained to complete shut down and decommissioning work.
"We will work to do the best we can by our people and the community of Whakatāne and the Bay of Plenty as we complete our decommissioning and closure of the plant."
He said they would continue to work with union representatives and other agencies to support staff through the redundancy process.