See you later bank, hello Ferrari: Auckland's closing bank branches live again video

CHRIS MCKEEN/Stuff.co.nz

Banks are being repurposed as online presence climbs

All over Auckland bank branches are closing.

But while it's a case of bye-bye Westpac, ANZ and ASB, it's also a case of hello Amnesty International, Ferrari and Rajasthan Treasures.

As more banking is done on tablets and mobile phones, banks have been shutting their branches around the country leaving gaping holes in communities and shopping strips on city fringes.

David Forrest sells Indian antiques from the old ASB branch building in the posh suburb of Mount Eden. The bank had a ...
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

David Forrest sells Indian antiques from the old ASB branch building in the posh suburb of Mount Eden. The bank had a branch there for more than 50 years.

In booming central Auckland though, when banks pull out, all manner of new tenants move in.

READ MORE:
ANZ latest bank to propose branch closures
Westpac announces closure of 19 branches
More bank branches to close

David Forrest's Rajasthan Treasures is selling Indian antiques from 414 Mount Eden Road where for more than 50 years ASB had a branch.

ANZ was dispensing mortgages from the corner of Great South Road and Manukau Road. Now it's where the moneyed go to get ...
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

ANZ was dispensing mortgages from the corner of Great South Road and Manukau Road. Now it's where the moneyed go to get a Ferrari.

Though the branch has now been closed for months, Forrest said people continue to walk in hoping to make a deposit or speak to a teller.

Instead he can only offer them curiosities like elephant bells, marble temple domes and doors from ancient fortresses collected in his treks through Rajasthan in search of treasures to bring back to New Zealand.

Many people express a sense of sadness to him about the loss of the bank branch, especially older people who are less comfortable doing their banking online, or who can't because they don't have smartphones or computers at home.

Westpac moved out from this iconoic building at the top of Queen Street. Amnesty International moved in.
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Westpac moved out from this iconoic building at the top of Queen Street. Amnesty International moved in.

"When a bank disappears it's taking a part of their history away with them. People react quite strongly to that," Forrest says.

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Forrest was surprised to find many of the old ASB fittings still in place when he moved Rajasthan Treasures in.

"It's interesting. When the banks tend to vacate, they leave most of the fixtures and fittings in the bank and just walk away."

There's a long history of banks branches vacating and new owners moving in. In Ponsonby this plaque commemorates the ...
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

There's a long history of banks branches vacating and new owners moving in. In Ponsonby this plaque commemorates the building of an early ASB branch. It's now a community art gallery.

ASB had left the old tellers' counters, which had to be demolished, he said.

"I was hoping to find a small fortune under the counter."

ASB shareholders will be pleased to note that all he found was a ten cent coin.

Dragon Fish designed by Auckland's Susan Holmes was the winner of the 1996 Montana New Zealand WearableArt Awards. It's ...
MARTIN DE RUYTER

Dragon Fish designed by Auckland's Susan Holmes was the winner of the 1996 Montana New Zealand WearableArt Awards. It's now on show in Objectspace in a former ASB branch buidling on Ponsonby Road.

Forrest's store is what's known as a pop-up shop, there until he's sold out of the antiques he brought back from India.

Others that move in when banks move out aim to stay for good.

The high-visibility ANZ branch on the corner of Great South Road and Manukau Road shut earlier this year.

The frosted windows of this Glen Eden building used to house a full Westpac branch. It was shut over a year ago, leaving ...
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

The frosted windows of this Glen Eden building used to house a full Westpac branch. It was shut over a year ago, leaving an ATM and electronic help station.

Ferrari moved in.

The area is a hub of new motor dealers, including many at the top-end of the pricing scale like Rolls Royce and BMW.

It's not always a business which fills the gap left when a bank shuts a branch.

On the corner of Queen Street and the colourful Karangahape Road Amnesty International set up shop when Westpac moved out.

The fight to close Australia's island refugee detention centres has replaced the fight to sell more mortgages than ANZ and ASB.

Art galleries commonly move in to fill the gap when when banks depart premises in less commercially attractive premises.

Galleries now occupy old ASB and ANZ branch buildings on K Road, Ponsonby Road, and in west Auckland suburb Te Atatu.

That includes one of Ponsonby's very earliest ASB branches, which now houses Objectspace, a gallery currently showing the textile art of Susan Holmes.

When banks move out of buildings at the fringes of the city, or in rural areas, there is no guarantee the owner can find a new tenant quickly.

Two years after the Westpac in the west Auckland suburb of Glen Eden closed, leaving only an ATM and electronic self help station, its windows are still frosted over.

 - Stuff

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