Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese, Stoke resident Daphne Crampton, Greypower president Christine Tuffnell and Nelson MP Nick Smith are organising a petition opposing the closure of Stoke's Kiwibank. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Battle lines drawn in fight for Kiwibank

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The fight to save the Stoke Kiwibank is escalating with a public meeting and petition being organised to air locals’ thoughts on the move.

The meeting and petition to oppose the closure will be launched at the public meeting on Friday at 10.30am, at the Stoke Methodist Hall, by 93-year-old Stoke resident Daphne Crampton.

She calls the move “terrible”.

“[The closure] will take away the personal touch and make it impossible for those who are elderly or frail or who can’t afford the bus to do their banking.”

The closure of the branch means the suburb will no longer have a bank after Westpac shut its doors two years ago.

Stoke has a population of 16,000 with 4,500 older New Zealanders, one of the highest proportions of seniors of anywhere in New Zealand.

Mayor Rachel Reese says she is “astounded” by the decision in Nelson’s fastest growing suburb. Over the next 30 years Stoke is projected to home three-quarters of the population and half its new housing.

“[Kiwibank’s] failure to engage with council and the public is concerning to say the least, and we’ve asked representatives from these publicly owned companies to give the community a chance to share their views.”

Greypower president Christine Tuffnell says that Kiwibank is making a “marketing blunder” in copying other commercial banks.

“Rather than recognising the opportunity to provide customer-friendly banking for older Kiwis who want face-to-face services.”

Nelson MP Nick Smith says the Stoke closure contradicts the Labour/NZ First Coalition agreement that commits to expanding public services in regional New Zealand.

“It is hypocritical of Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones to have decried other bank branch closures when he is the Associate Minister of State Owned Enterprises that owns NZ Post and Kiwibank,” Nick says. “Mr Jones’ public comments indicate he is unhappy with the decision to close in Stoke Kiwibank and PostShop. With a strong community campaign he could use his powers to have the decision reconsidered.”

NZ Post head of retail Mark Yagmich says they are currently looking for a local business to help deliver the postal services and bill payment options that are currently available from the Stoke branch.

“Whilst we carry out this search, we’d like to reassure our customers that there will be no change to our services for customers who use the Stoke NZ Post and Kiwibank. They can still access postal services, such as buying postage and sending parcels, and access the box lobby.”