Maniototo to lose only bank

Amie Pont.
Amie Pont.
Maniototo residents are outraged and upset about the proposed closure of the area’s only bank, the district’s business group head says.

"There’s been people in tears after hearing the news," Maniototo Business Group chairwoman Amie Pont said.

"Just when we’re getting to the point when there’s confidence here and businesses are setting up and we’re getting spin-off from Queenstown, Wanaka, Cromwell and Alexandra having unreachable prices on their housing, and people are moving here instead .."

Mrs Pont, who runs a business in Ranfurly, said residents would rally behind any moves to retain the Wetspac bank.

Its closure would mean the loss of two jobs, an inability for local business to bank, lack of access to bank services for senior citizens who did not travel or did not do internet banking and a lack of banking services for an increasing number of visitors to the area.

"It also means an empty building in our main street and undermines all the hard work by businesses and volunteers to promote our area and encourage people to move to the Maniototo," she said. 

No alternative solutions had been proposed by the bank hierarchy, she believed.

The community had not been given any opportunity to perhaps look at its banking habits and there was no push to "bank locally".

There was no suggestion of a reduced service with the bank open for fewer days a week.

"We’re looking at those and other options and we have two weeks to come up with some alternatives.

"We think the area has a bright future," Mrs Pont said.

The proposed closure was "really disappointing" but understandable, Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper said.

"I can understand that people are moving to online banking, so there’s a real change in how banking is done these days but there’s still a whole lot of people who deal with cash, and their nearest bank will be 90km away [in Alexandra]."

Mr Lepper said he had asked  Central Otago District Council chief executive Leanne Mash if there was some way the council could help provide banking services through its service centre in Ranfurly.

"She said: ‘Of course we can work with them and are happy to house a machine, or a person or do cash handling in our service centre, if that helps.’ We’ll support any type of solution," he said.


Not having a bank in Ranfurly is Australian stupidity. Give them the word on Radio Burn, Amie.

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