El­derly are be­ing aban­doned by banks

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - RUBY NYIKA

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.

MARK TAY­LOR/STUFF

Ron and Jane Carter have been left ban­k­less, and don’t feel they can start learn­ing to use the in­ter­net.

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