Workers at the Tachikawa Forest Products mill in Rotorua, which has been put into receivership, are disheartened, annoyed and pessimistic about their future, says First Union wood secretary Rawiri Daniels.
Speaking after a meeting of affected workers, Daniels said the mood was sombre.
''They're pessimistic about the future. It'll hit home in the next few days,'' he said.
One employee Kerry Wiringi told the Rotorua Review the closure was not unexpected but was still a blow.
''We could see it coming.''
Staff knew there were problems when fewer and fewer logs came through the mill and when they were asked to take days off, he said.
First Union general secretary Robert Reid said receivers Kordamentha had to sell the business and there were two realistic options; it could be acquired as a going concern, or acquired for the plant and land, meaning the business would close.
He advised staff to begin searching for alternative employment.
''Don't wait and hope,'' he said.
Under Companies Act regulations, workers are deemed to be preferential creditors entitled to a maximum of $20,040 in wages, holiday pay and redundancy.
Without a buyer that sum could be reduced to as little as 50 cents in the dollar, Mr Reid said.
First Union has held meetings with local MP Todd McClay and new Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick, who described the news as a ''devastating blow.''
"'They've all got families. These are guys who want to get up and go to work. At the moment the economy is flatlining here, so it's not as if there are other [employers] going to grab them,'' she said.
''There seems to be a demand for processed timber and I think that's what we've got to get our heads around. Is there a possibility to keep trading or not?''
- Fairfax Media