Ranfurly loses Westpac battle
Ranfurly is reeling after news its only bank will close.
Westpac announced last week the closure of 19 branches around New Zealand and the closures would occur in early November.
Central Otago mayor Tony Lepper said like the rest of the Maniototo community, he felt ‘‘gutted’’ at the loss of the essential rural service.
‘‘I had hoped that common sense would prevail but that has not happened. We will now have to find an alternative way of looking after those people in Ranfurly who still need a banking service.’’
Maniototo businesswoman Amie Pont said the community was sad not only for those who would lose jobs, but the community was losing its physical bank.
‘‘I guess in a way with all 19 closing the decision was inevitable really. I think the work we did as a community has swayed Westpac towards looking at what services they can provide us as a community.’’
Westpac had proposed to provide education to senior citizens, an ipad or computer in a public space and possibly an ATM with deposit facilities, she said.
‘‘That isn’t guaranteed, but it is very necessary. We have got some work ahead of us to ensure whatever is in place, in terms of banking services, meets the majority of our needs as a community.’’
Some community members had made noises about changing banks, she said.
‘‘Most people are waiting to see what they provide. If it is substandard in any way a lot of people are asking what a good bank would be and they are looking at New Zealand-owned banks. It is a big deal changing banks.’’
Ranfurly Four Square employee Maxine Millar said everyone was ‘‘gutted’’ and the number of people deciding to change banks was ‘‘unbelievable’’.
‘‘Basically, if there was another option that is fine, but we have old people here. I have had three people come in absolutely fretting how they are going to manage. They can’t get to Alexandra, they don’t even have an eftpos card. In winter we are isolated. Clubs need banks, shops need banks...it is certainly not going to help.’’
The community had held out some hope the protest might delay the inevitable, she said.
‘‘There was a bit of hope.’’
Chantel Knox, centre, with her NRG team.