The new boss of the nation's biggest New Zealand-owned bank has committed to bring 50 new jobs to Hastings.
Speaking to Hawke's Bay Today, Just six weeks into his new role, Kiwibank chief executive Steve Jurkovich revealed one of the bank's first decisions in that time was to boost its staffing levels at its Hastings operation centre.
"We just committed to bringing in 50 new people in the last few weeks. For us, that's a, partly because a lot of people want to live in Hawke's Bay and b, because from a business, planning and continuity perspective, not having everyone in Wellington or Auckland makes sense."
From our perspective it doesn't really matter where you are based, it's about the outcomes and the outputs. So, Hawke's Bay is a brilliant choice.
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The new roles would be a mixture of contact centre staff, online inquiry team roles and the bank's KiwiSaver team.
Jurkovich said the bank was keen to show its commitment to the city and Hawke's Bay.
"This is our third biggest site by numbers so it's a key part for us.
"It's been quite an amazing story. It started with just a dozen people, and by the end of this calendar year, there will be 191 team members here.
"Lots of people have made the decision to move from Auckland and Wellington and other places to work here, and they work in a whole range of roles.
"So, that means a couple of the guys that are working in the business banking centre here are product managers. Traditionally, that's meant being in head office and working in Wellington but for family reasons they wanted to come and enjoy Hawke's Bay's lifestyle but they can still have a job where they feel like they are making a big difference to the bank.
"From our perspective it doesn't really matter where you are based, it's about the outcomes and the outputs. So, Hawke's Bay is a brilliant choice."
The two-storey Queen St operations centre, formerly a Farmers department store, opened just three years ago and now consisted of a range of positions including customer care representatives, secure banking roles as well as a large contact centre.
There was "no reason" why the bank would not want to keep growing its presence in the region, Jurkovich said.
"The cost of living in a whole lot of places I guess is meaning that a lot more people are thinking about what they want to do with their family, where they want to bring their kids up, what sort of lifestyle they want, and if you can get a good job that's working for one of New Zealand's bigger companies, that sort of takes away that compromise with career plans."
He also pointed out that in Hastings and Napier Kiwibank operated stand-alone banking stores, rather than them being co-located with NZ post.
There were no immediate plans for rural branch closures in Hawke's Bay.
Jurkovich added Hawke's Bay residents wanting to get involved in the Government's Kiwibuild programme, once it came to the region, could expect to be able to access home loans worth up to 90 per cent of the home's value.
"It's all about making sure it's affordable and the serviceability - that's really what drives it. The maths of some places are obviously that 90 per cent is a bigger chunk of money but really there is a whole lot of factors that go into considering that.
"For the people that want that support and can afford it, we'll be there for them.
"We're the first to show our support by offering 90 per cent loans for Kiwibuild. We're 100 per cent supportive of the initiative.
"From our perspective, since having joined, it was quite clear to me that New Zealanders expected that Kiwibank would be heavily involved in Kiwibuild. I think that's a fair expectation and we'll live up to it."
After Australian-owned banks withdrew jobs from rural regions, the news Kiwibank would be bringing jobs to Hastings was welcomed by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.
Speaking as associate minister for State Owned Enterprises, Jones said he would be speaking with Kiwibank to ascertain what role they would play going forward in maintaining access to essential banking and financial services in the provinces.