Will bank stay closed?

VANITA PRASAD
Last updated 08:53 14/06/2011
kiwibank
Vanita Prasad
KEEPING IT LOCAL: Lynn Bryant wants to see the Green Bay Post Shop maintain its Kiwibank services.

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Kiwibank's motto is "It's ours" but Green Bay and Avondale residents are having a hard time keeping hold of its services.

The bank's services were removed from the Green Bay Post Shop on a three-month trial.

That's due to finish this month and residents are concerned the only bank in the area may be gone for good.

Resident Lynn Bryant says more than 1200 signatures have been collected on a petition to keep it.

And residents are planning a protest too.

"It's the last banking service in the area and with three resthomes nearby, there are many elderly people who use it," she says.

"They come down in buses to the hub in Green Bay and do their shopping, post and banking all in one easy place."

New Lynn MP David Cunliffe is taking their petition to Parliament.

"The next step will be checking the petition for compliance so it can be put forward in the next sitting of Parliament, where it can be forwarded to a select committee.

"They have extensive powers and can require Kiwibank to appear to justify its branch closures," he says.

Mr Cunliffe is also concerned about the upcoming change of Avondale Postshop's Kiwibank into a Post Centre.

From July seven Postshop Kiwibank stores across New Zealand will close, including the Avondale branch.

NZ Post is trying to find a business to open a Post Centre in the same area.

Avondale Business Association chairman Duncan Macdonald is upset by the change.

"I've been fielding a lot of complaints.

"Many are from pensioners who use the post office," he says.

"How can a business that has customers queuing out the door say they are going out of business?"

Mr Macdonald says seven jobs are at risk.

NZ Post external communications manager John Tulloch says the company has good reasons for both the Green Bay trial and replacing the Avondale Postshop with a Post Centre.

"The trends show fewer people come through the doors. When they are doing face-to-face banking they want to do it closer to their work or where people are congregating."

He says more people are choosing to bank online.

"Of our 700,000 customers around 500,000 are registered for online banking and we expect that to accelerate."

But Ms Bryant says some elderly people don't know how to use internet banking.

"They want to take their chequebook to the bank and have face-to-face contact."

Grey Power Waitakere secretary Vera Mummery, 87, enjoys using internet banking. "It's so easy to pay my bills online. I can't speak for all of our members but I haven't been to a branch in a long time," she says.

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Mr Tulloch says removing banking services at Green Bay is a trial. "We are looking at trends that work well for the community out of that store and we're looking to take feedback.

"Ultimately what is going to drive this move is numbers and what is going to be economically viable."

Mr Tulloch could not reveal how many people visit the Green Bay and Avondale branches because it's commercially sensitive information.

He says the Avondale branch is being replaced by a Post Centre because of the low uptake of banking services and the proximity of other branches.

- Western Leader

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