Tuesday’s meeting about the proposed ANZ bank closure in Martinborough attracted 107 people to The Village Cafe. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Many elderly don’t use automated teller machines

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

Martinborough residents will mount one last symbolic protest to save their bank, on the day ANZ completes their consultation on closing it.

From 4.15pm to 4.30pm on Monday, the community will unite by holding hands around the Kitchener St branch, mimicking the hands around the Greytown Hospital protest in 1991.

The call to action came from South Wairarapa councillor Pam Colenso at a public meeting held in Martinborough on Tuesday night.

More than 100 people braved terrible weather to attend and share how the closure of the only remaining bank in the South Wairarapa district would affect them.

Almost 1800 people have already signed a petition asking ANZ bank to retain its Martinborough branch.

Councillor Pip Maynard, who called the meeting, said it was disappointing that ANZ had declined her invitation to attend as it would have provided the bank with necessary information to make an “informed decision”.

A written response to Cr Maynard from the bank said its proposal to close came after a six per cent drop-off in branch users over the past year.

The bank said more than 80 per cent of customers had not been into the branch this year.

The fact Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott also failed to show up was a further let-down for the crowd.

Cr Maynard read out an email from Scott, who said it was not a politician’s place to get mixed up in business.

He said that it was like telling an airline when it could, and could not fly.

Resident Mel Maynard had the room cheering after her speech, in which she said young millennials would cope with no bank, but some “local legends and farmers who supported and used ANZ” may not find it so easy.

“Why is it that now they are older, and untrained in the technology, they are being left and hung out to dry while ANZ only wants to look after, support and actively pursue the technology savvy customers – those who can essentially look after themselves.”

Maynard said banks pulling out of isolated regions was creating more urban drift.

Resident Andrea Hutchison said she worked with the elderly and most did not use automated teller machines [ATMs].

“They do not know how to use cards. As caregivers we aren’t allowed to help them get money out.

“They’re the ones who are going to suffer really badly and that breaks my heart.”

Mayor Viv Napier said it was clear ANZ did not properly understand the community it was letting down.

She said many people switched to the bank 15 months ago when Martinborough’s BNZ branch closed.

“I don’t think ANZ has been forthcoming.”

Wairarapa Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty said keeping the bank open was “a no-brainer” considering how South Wairarapa had 6.7 per cent economic growth last year which was higher than growth in Queenstown, Wellington and New Zealand as a whole.

He said ANZ was looking at things through a “corporate lens instead of a community lens”.

After the meeting, hosted by The Village Cafe and mediated by journalist and former politician Deborah Coddington, there was talk of ANZ customers switching banks if the closure went ahead.

People have until September 10 to submit on the proposal.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones has expressed frustration over the Australian-owned banks closing branches in New Zealand, which includes BNZ closing its Pahiatua branch today.