Topic: Business

East Coast locals fight on to save the only bank in Ruatorea

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Three thousand signatures have been collected in a petition to stop the possible closure of the only Westpac branch in Ruatorea.

Local Royce Mathieson says, "If they shut they’re treating everybody like the piece of stuff under their boot they may as well not exist, you might as well say that, because they don’t want to know nobody on the coast."

The petition was handed over to Ruatorea Westpac bank manager Dave Seymour in a bid by locals to have their voice heard.

If the closure does go ahead, locals will be left with only be two choices, either drive to Ōpōtiki which for some is nearly a 5-hour round trip.  Otherwise head to Gisborne, and for those living in Te Araroa, that's more than a 300km round trip.

Petition organiser Manu Caddie says, "It's the poorest part of the country and this is just going to be another financial burden that is going to be put on people that are already struggling."

Westpac says there has been a steady decline in people using the branch over the past few years, and that if they were to close they would leave an ATM machine as well deposit facilities.