Pu­taruru robbed of its banks

South Waikato News - - Front Page - LUKE KIRKEBY

Weeks after West­pac an­nounced plans to close its Pu­taruru branch the South Waikato town’s res­i­dents have been dealt an­other blow.

BNZ has an­nounced a pro­posal to also close its Pu­taruru branch and is con­sult­ing staff.

An em­ployee, who did not want to be named, said staff have been given un­til Novem­ber 9 to ‘‘jus­tify their jobs and why the branch should stay open’’.

They said they’ve been ad­vised that BNZ, which has been in Pu­taruru since 1941, in­tends to close in just un­der four weeks.

That could mean it’s three staff are out of jobs and cus­tomers may have to open ac­counts else­where if they don’t have in­ter­net or tele­phone bank­ing.

‘‘BNZ have picked up a lot of new clients due to the re­cent an­nounce­ment of the clo­sure of West­pac. [It’s] clo­sure has up­set a lot of peo­ple who have strug­gled to change their ac­counts over to BNZ,’’ the BNZ worker said.

If the move goes ahead Pu­taruru will be left with only ANZ and Ki­wibank.

BNZ re­tail re­gional man­ager Mark Lan­caster said the po­ten­tial clo­sure has been sparked in part by a need to earth­quake strengthen the branch’s build­ing and de­clin­ing cus­tomer num­bers.

‘‘We have been op­er­at­ing from a port-a-bank in Pu­taruru since April 11 this year be­cause our store needed up­grad­ing for earth­quake re­quire­ments,’’ he said.

‘‘This on­go­ing build­ing is­sue, com­bined with a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in trans­ac­tions in Pu­taruru in re­cent years, led us to re­view op­er­a­tions.’’

Lan­caster said the bank was con­stantly re­view­ing store lo­ca­tions.

‘‘Our cus­tomers are in­creas­ingly choos­ing BNZ’S dig­i­tal bank­ing chan­nels,’’ he said.

BNZ com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Ja­nine Ogier said new cus­tomers are be­ing in­formed of the pro­posal.

She said those un­fa­mil­iar with in­ter­net and tele­phone bank­ing only need to ask for help.

‘‘Cus­tomers just need to make an ap­point­ment. There is free in­ter­net ac­cess avail­able at Pu­taruru Li­brary and a BNZ ATM at Z Pu­taruru which is open 6am to 10pm,’’ she said.

Pu­taruru is BNZ’S only store clo­sure pro­posal

South Waikato Mayor Jenny Shat­tock said the an­nounce­ment was ‘‘very dis­ap­point­ing’’ and she had ar­ranged to meet with Lan­caster to dis­cuss op­tions.

PHOTO: LUKE KIRKEBY/FAIR­FAX NZ

BNZ’S Pu­taruru branch could close.

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