Elderly are being abandoned by banks
Elderly small-town residents continue to languish after banks shut up shop. Last year saw bank branches in small Waikato towns close, including Raglan, Te Aroha, Paeroa, Putaruru and Ngaruawahia.
Residents of Raglan and Putaruru said it was tough on the whole community, but the elderly have been hit the hardest.
Ron Carter, 86, has lived in Putaruru for 47 years. He doesn’t own a computer and now travels to Tokoroa or Matamata for a Westpac branch.
‘‘I have to rely on my bank statement. It gets posted to me every month to check my finances,’’ Carter said.
’’I don’t really think I would be able to start learning to use the internet. Probably quite a lot of elderly people aren’t prepared to learn that sort of thing just to do their banking.’’
Putaruru took a big hit, with their Westpac and BNZ branches closing within months of each other. Carter said people switched to BNZ after the Westpac closed, only for the BNZ to close too.
‘‘A lot of elderly people probably aren’t computer literate and therefore it is a matter of having to go into the bank if they want to access their finances or get a bank balance,’’ Carter said.
He now uses eftpos but Grey Power South Waikato President, Jan Boyce, said many seniors are still uncomfortable and confused by eftpos and ATM machines.
‘‘A lot of them didn’t ever apply for or get the plastic to go in the
‘‘I have to rely on my bank statement. It gets posted to me every month to check my finances.’’ Ron Carter
holes in the walls because for them, they were terrifying.’’
Internet banking was out of the question for those who have never owned a computer and don’t know how to use one, she said.
‘‘For the ordinary elderly who had actually grown up with faceto-face banking and did everything themselves, they found themselves completely out in the cold.’’
Others are unable to drive themselves making transport elsewhere difficult when living off a pension.
South Waikato District Mayor, Jenny Shattock, said the change has been tough on South Waikato, particularly Putaruru with an ageing population.
‘‘It’s particularly difficult for older people in our community who are just not comfortable with ATM banking. It’s the difficulty of them also having to travel to Tokoroa,’’ Shattock said.
Ron and Jane Carter have been left bankless, and don’t feel they can start learning to use the internet.