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Current as of 19/01/17 02:19PM NZST

Sadness on bank's last business day

By Jono Edwards

Sally Bradfield, of Waipiata, checks her purse as she enters the Ranfurly branch of Westpac on its closing day. Photo by Jono Edwards.
Sally Bradfield, of Waipiata, checks her purse as she enters the Ranfurly branch of Westpac on its closing day. Photo by Jono Edwards.

It was a "sad day" in Ranfurly yesterday as the town's only bank closed its doors, but the community is moving on.

Westpac's only branch in the Maniototo shut for the last time yesterday.

Maniototo Business Group chairwoman Amie Pont said it was a "sad day" for the town.

"We tried our best, but now there's nothing we can really do about it."

A protest against the closure drew 300 people in August.

The community once again showed its cohesiveness by bringing flowers and cards into the building yesterday, she said.

"People really feel for the staff."

A new ATM next to the Ranfurly Hotel on Charlemont St, which Westpac customers can also use to deposit money, was scheduled to begin operation today.

Westpac digital educator Karyn Pettersen will be outside the machine next Monday from noon for a couple of hours to teach people how to use it.

She will be based at the Ranfurly i-Site building every Thursday from November 17 to teach locals how to use the ATM, deposit machine and online banking.

She will keep flexible hours depending on demand.

There will also be an internet-linked tablet based in the building to help Westpac customers access online banking.

It was "great" the bank was doing these things, Mrs Pont said.

"They're under no obligation to do anything."

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said it was great the community, the bank and the council had been able to work together to develop a solution.

"While the education service and an ATM may not equate to the full service having a branch offered, it needs to be remembered that Westpac remained in Ranfurly after other banks had left and that Westpac could have left without responding to the community concerns that were raised on the announcement that the branch was closing."

It is one of 19 New Zealand branches Westpac confirmed it would close in September.

- Otago Daily Times

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