Kawerau is a town in the Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand. It is situated 100 km south-east of Tauranga and 58 km east of Rotorua. It is the seat of the Kawerau District Council, and the only town in Kawerau District.

Kawerau is a small community, with an economy that is largely driven by the nearby pulp and paper mill that is run by Norske Skog and Carter Holt Harvey. It is located along State Highway 34, southwest of Onepu, and is the terminus of the East Coast Main Trunk Railway, and the commencing point of the Murupara Branch railway.

Kawerau was one of the worst-affected towns in the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake.

Kawerau is one of the youngest towns in New Zealand. It was founded in 1953 as a mill town for the new Tasman pulp and paper mill. The site for the mill was chosen because of the ready availability of geothermal energy, water from the Tarawera River and the large supply of pine timber from the nearby Kaingaroa forest. Unlike most other towns of its size, Kawerau was carefully planned before construction. The town was built with an impressive number of facilities, to accommodate a multinational specialist workforce. The mill continues to drive the local economy and greatly influences the fortunes of the town. The town’s population peaked in the early 1980s (8718 in the 1981 census) but has declined significantly since then due to the restructuring of the mill and associated industries.

In 2012 mill owner Norske Skog said it would be shutting one of the two newsprint machines at the mill. In January 2013 it was confirmed nearly half the mill’s jobs would be lost. Norse Skog of Norway which is the world’s second biggest producer of newsprint confirmed closure of one of its two paper machines at the Tasman Mill at Kawerau with the loss of 110 jobs. The company first announced its intention to shut one machine last September, following a review of its newsprint capacity in Australasia. The remaining Tasman machine would continue to produce newsprint predominantly for the New Zealand and Australian markets. Norske Skog management would work closely with employees, unions and other stakeholders on the detailed closure arrangements, including a mill-wide restructuring programme. Peter McCartey, General Manager of Tasman Mill said it was widely understood the decision had been brought about by global market forces within the industry. The second paper machine had operated successfully for over 50 years. Norske Skog has the widest geographical spread of all the paper producers, with mills in 11 countries on all continents except Africa. Kawerau is also home to geothermal power supply Kawerau Power Station for the local industry as well as the rest of New Zealand.

Source: Wikipedia