Another bank in Northland is set to close its doors for good.
The BNZ branch on Marsden Rd, Paihia, will open for the last time on Friday, April 7. Branches in Kaikohe and Dargaville will cut their hours to 1-4.30pm and 9am-12.30pm, respectively, from April 3. The bank's Paihia ATM will remain.
The BNZ says the closure is due to customers shifting to online banking but Northland MP Winston Peters says the move is about boosting profits, and is bad news for older Kiwis who prefer face-to-face banking.
BNZ retail regional manager Tracey Mold said three Paihia staff were affected by the closure. The bank was working with them on redeployment and redundancy options. The Kaikohe and Dargaville staff also had new roles to consider, she said.
Customers were increasingly making use of online banking, leading to a decline in demand for in-store banking services in Paihia, Kaikohe and Dargaville.
"We are constantly reviewing the locations of our store network to make sure we are focusing investment in the areas we can best serve the changing needs of our customers. Consequently, a decision has been made to close BNZ Paihia and concentrate our in-store banking services in that area at BNZ Kerikeri," Ms Mold said.
Kerikeri is 24km or about 25 minutes drive from Paihia.
No change was planned at the bank's new, purpose-built store on Kaitaia's Commerce St, which opened on February 27.
Mr Peters, who is also the leader of NZ First, said it was "another example of a foreign corporate's indifference to small-town New Zealand".
"It's not as though they are running short of money. Last year BNZ overall recorded a profit of $913 million. But like other Australian-owned banks in New Zealand such as Westpac, which shut 19 branches around New Zealand last year, they are interested only in making as big a profit as they can," he said.
Mr Peters said the reduction in hours at Kaikohe and Dargaville was a first step towards closure. The bank would not comment on that claim.
News of the BNZ branch closure follows last year's closure of Paihia's Post Office. Postal and Kiwibank services are now handled by an agency in Paihia Bookshop further up Williams Rd. Only the ASB and Westpac still have branches in Paihia.
The last bank in Russell, a Westpac branch, shut down in 2013, and the only ATM machine in Waipapa, also owned by Westpac, was removed in late 2015.