Waipapa residents are lamenting the removal of their only cash machine and calling for its return.
Despite being one of the main retail centres in the Bay of Islands and a service hub for a large semi-rural area, Waipapa has only ever had one ATM. Now it has none.
People wanting cash have to ask at a shop, use the machine at the BP service station across State Highway 10 at a cost of $2-4 per withdrawal, or drive about 10 minutes to Kerikeri. The Westpac ATM was removed in November but only now are some residents starting a campaign, by social media and email, to have a cash machine reinstated.
Waipapa resident Elaine Dunlop said the bank's advice to drive to Kerikeri showed a lack of understanding of rural communities.
"If you live at Waipapa you're not going to drive to Kerikeri to get cash if you're going shopping at the Warehouse [in Waipapa]."
Many elderly people in particular relied on the Waipapa ATM because parking and access was easy. She also recommended it to overseas guests who needed cash before heading to Paihia or Russell, instead of trying to find a parking place in Kerikeri.
A cash machine in Waipapa was especially useful in summer when Kerikeri's ATMs often ran out of money and parking was hard to find, she said.
Ms Dunlop said she did not see why she should have to pay extra to use the BP money machine, or why the Warehouse should have to act as a bank.
She had started a social media campaign, urging other Waipapa residents to contact the bank via its Facebook page, and was also writing to Westpac bosses.
She was surprised no other bank had moved to fill the gap given the number of new businesses setting up in Waipapa.
A Westpac spokeswoman said the bank apologised for any inconvenience, but with increasing numbers of people using cards instead of cash, as well as online banking, there had been a steady decline in the number of people using the Waipapa ATM. Customers could use Westpac's full service branch and ATM in nearby Kerikeri, she said.
Writing on the bank's Facebook page Crystal Harden said Waipapa was the easiest place to take her grandmother, who had difficulty walking, when she wanted to get money out. Removal of the ATM meant a loss of a little of her independence, she said.
Kathaleen Griffiths said it was a "huge hassle" to drive to Kerikeri just to check her balance and get cash out; while Clyde Wainwright said many people travelling on SH10 had no intention of detouring to Kerikeri. Smart travellers still carried cash, especially with the failure of many Eftpos system over the holidays, he said. In one of its responses on Facebook, Westpac said it had reviewed the Waipapa ATM and found it was nearing the end of its life span. Its low use meant it did not warrant upgrading.