ANZ Martinborough branch. PHOTO/PAM GRAHAM
Days after BNZ withdraws from Pahiatua, ANZ signals closure
PAM GRAHAM and HAYLEY GASTMEIER
ANZ confirmed on Tuesday it is proposing to close its Martinborough branch, hot on the heels of the announcement that the BNZ branch in Pahiatua will close early next month.
“We are consulting with staff about the proposed closure of the Martinborough branch,” ANZ’s senior manager external communications Stefan Herrick said.
“The consultation will conclude Monday, September 10.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further while we are still talking to staff.”
The announcement comes 15 months after the town’s Bank of New Zealand branch shut its doors for good.
The ANZ in Martinborough is the last remaining bank in South Wairarapa. If it closes, residents would have to travel to Carterton or Masterton for banking services.
South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier said the news was disappointing.
She said the bank serviced a large rural area, and the staff and the bank customers had a good relationship.
“The staff know the people in the town and understand their circumstances, so they’ll be missing out on that personal touch if it closes down.”
It would be “pretty sad” if the bank closed, said Martinborough’s Neighbourhood Coffee owner, Dudley-Anne Hill.
“I guess this is part of reality and our future where technology displaces jobs.”
She said her main issue would be holding enough of a cash float and securing the day’s takings.
“In small towns it affects everyone.
“It’s about our kids being able to save their pocket money and take it to a bank, it’s about tourists being able to use the services.
“It’s about supplying jobs to the locals.
“It’s about being able to get a replacement eftpos or credit card, or open an account.”
First Union has two members in the branch, and regional secretary Sheryl Cadman said the union’s organiser was present for the meeting with staff on Monday night.
“The proposal is to close the branch and relocate staff, probably to Masterton,” she said.
“We are really concerned about bank closures, and how people in smaller communities are going to be able to do their banking.”
Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott said ANZ’s move continues the trend banks were following around the country.
“I don’t go into a bank. More and more people aren’t going into banks and are doing banking online.”
Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty said he understood three staff would be affected if the closure went ahead and he had been in touch with ANZ to ensure staff members would be treated fairly should they lose their jobs, as he had done when the Pahiatua closure was announced last Friday.
ANZ branch set to close
“The staff were offered alternative positions, they were offered redundancy for those unable to travel, and they offered a grant for those who wished to retrain further.”
Derek Anderton from Elite Mowing said he didn’t do a lot of banking in the branch, but “when you go in there, they really know you”.
“They treat you like a real person. I go in to talk to the manager and the staff in there are fantastic.
“It’s bad, really bad.”
Martinborough resident Helen Masters thought a closure might affect elderly residents of the town.
“The last time I went into the bank was to pick up a card. I don’t go in there for day-to-day business.”
The closure of the BNZ branch in Pahiatua, nine months after the ANZ closed in the town, will impact the community in surrounding rural areas, said Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis.
The branch is closing at 3pm on Friday, September 7. An ATM will remain.
Two staff employed at the branch are considering redeployment options.
Collis said news of the closure was a total shock.
The BNZ branch had been working on reduced hours from 10am to 3pm since December 2016 and she had thought that would be enough to deal with lower transaction volumes.
She said the bank telephoned her to tell her about the closure decision and that the site would be altered to make access to the ATM easier.
“The access is a little bit tight if you have a walker or a wheelchair,” she said.
There is still a Westpac and Kiwibank in the town.