Low and no interest loan schemes are now available in Tauranga with the Community Finance partnership.

The initiative run by Good Shepherd New Zealand and BNZ was established in 2014, and received additional government funding in the May 2016 budget.

Loans are provided to a group of New Zealanders described as 'financially vulnerable' - meaning they do not meet standard bank criteria and have exhausted their Work and Income options.

Good Shepherd New Zealand chief executive Fleur Howard said as a result, many are forced to take out loans with alternative lenders, many of whom charge high-interest rates and fees.


"Community Finance provides access to a fair, safe and affordable line of credit for people living on low incomes, and we are delighted that the success of the pilot led to the funding that is enabling us to launch our new regions.

"But we know it is so much more than a loan," she said.

Howard said people learn life skills including how to better manage their budget by connecting with community loan workers, and become more savvy in their understanding of the dangers of third tier lenders.

"There are broader societal benefits in what the loans deliver too - a reliable car for many of our customers is what they need to hold down a full time job. A computer can help with further education", she said.

BNZ, which provides the lending, estimated that the $1.26 million of lending to June 30, 2017, has saved clients more than $678,000 in interest and charges when compared to borrowing the same amount through alternative lenders.

Chief executive Anthony Healy said the bank had been a proud partner since inception and had now committed $60 million in lending over the long term as well as expertise and advice where needed.

"Community Finance addresses a very real need and BNZ is proud to be part of that. But what is most exciting is seeing what comes next for a client; what the loan enables."

Government evaluation of the Community Finance pilot showed there were other benefits from the financial conversations that happen as part of the loan process.


This includes strengthening people's financial capability and increasing the wellbeing of families and communities.

Major Pam Waugh, Territorial Social Services Secretary for The Salvation Army said running a tight budget can be hard enough without the added pressure of predatory lenders.

"The reduced stress these Community Finance loans deliver can make such a difference to people's family life."

The initiative currently partners with The Salvation Army and Aviva. New community provider partners and new locations will be added in coming months.

It is also available in Hamilton, Rotorua, Invercargill, Wellington, Whangarei, Palmerston North, Hawkes's Bay and Christchurch in addition to the pilot locations in Auckland.