Tens of thousands of New Zealand households have deferred or reduced mortgage repayments since the nationwide lockdown began, new figures show.
On Friday the New Zealand Bankers' Association published aggregated data on how many customers had cut repayments or had their payments deferred altogether.
Sometimes described as a "mortgage holiday", a Government-approved scheme enables banks to allow customers to reduce or suspend mortgage repayments for up to six months, without the Reserve Bank considering those loans to be non-performing when assessing bank solvency. The interest on the loans continues to accrue.
But figures reveal how many households are taking up the scheme.
The NZBA said that across its membership, payments had been lowered on 41,436 loans worth $14 billion, while repayments had been deferred entirely on 40,918 loans worth $14.5b.
"We have also provided $2.1b in new lending to our personal customers," a statement on the NZBA website said. The money has been lent to just over 20,000 customers.
The figures describe the total number of loans where repayments have been varied, so the precise number of households which have taken up the scheme is not clear.
The NZBA has 17 banks as members, including the four major Australian-owned banks, as well as Kiwibank, SBS, Co-operative and TSB.
As well as the mortgage deferral scheme, the Government is guarenteeing up to 80 per cent of a $6.25b scheme under which the banks will lend working capital to business.
The NZBA statement said banks were continuing to lend to businesses regardless of the scheme.
"In addition to the Government scheme we've also offered $5.3b in new lending to nearly 10,000 business customers."
In the statement, expected to be published in newspapers on Saturday, the banks said that Covid-19 was stressful for many people.
"We know we will be judged on how we respond when you need us," the statement reads.
"We understand many of you are feeling stress and anxiety and we want to assure you that we are here to support you through this time."
Urging customers not to visit bank branches unless they needed to, the banks said they had a number of tools to help customers, including lower interest rates and fees.
They also urged customers to be "extra vigilant", claiming fraudsters were using the pandemic to prey on people.
"We fully support the bold actions taken by the Government and the Reserve Bank so far. They have helped free up the financial system so we can focus on dealing with the crisis. "
The NZBA is expected to continue to publish updated figures on its website.
On Thursday, Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr told MPs that New Zealand was "lucky to have the banks that we have" with the sector estimated to have around $100b in capital over and above regulatory minimums.
But he urged the banks to consider their "social responsibility" and long-term sustainability, because of their influence on the economy.
Earlier in the week, Finance Minister Grant Robertson told business leaders that it had taken some time to get documentation for the business loan scheme completed.
If any business was unhappy with the conversation they had with a bank about the scheme, they should try again now, Robertson told BusinessNZ members.
"Go back now that we've signed the deeds, now that the banks have got themselves the full level of comfort they needed to be part of the scheme, and have that conversation again."
• Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website